Take sex, for instance.''What do you want me to do with it?''Try to be serious for a moment. Take the sex life of our father.'[...]Even after a couple of brandies he felt extremely reluctant to discuss sex and his father. 'It's something I'd rather not think about,' he said. 'We all come into existence as a result of a momentary embrace by our parents which find impossible to imagine. [...] We all assume we're the result of our own particular immaculate conception.
I never asked my mother where babies came from but I remember clearly the day she volunteered the information....my mother called me to set the table for dinner. She sat me down in the kitchen, and under the classic caveat of 'loving each other very, very much,' explained that when a man and a woman hug tightly, the man plants a seed in the woman. The seed grows into a baby. Then she sent me to the pantry to get placemats. As a direct result of this conversation, I wouldn't hug my father for two months.
Mom always said people worried too much about their children. Suffering when you're young is good for you, she said. It immunized your body and your soul, and that was why she ignored us kids when we cried. Fussing over children who cry only encouraged them, she told us. That's positive reinforcement for negative behavior.
But I'm learning it's human nature to want the things you can't have. What changes is how you go about pursuing the things you want. When you're a little kid and you're told no, you scream and throw a temper tantrum. When you're a teenager and your parents tell you no, you're old enough to internalize your temper tantrum. But you're smarter and you're sneakier this time around. So you nod and act like you care when they say no, when they tell you who you can be friends with, when they say the know what's best. But then you go behind their backs to do it anyway. Because at some point, you need to start calling the shots. At some point, you need to start believing you know whats best. Or, I thought with a smile, you just stop asking for their permission in the first place.
If you have one parent who loves you, even if they can't buy you clothes, they're so poor and they make all kinds of mistakes and maybe sometimes they even give you awful advice, but never for one moment do you doubt their love for you--if you have this, you have incredibly good fortune.If you have two parents who love you? You have won life's Lotto.If you do not have parents, or if the parents you have are so broken and so, frankly, terrible that they are no improvement over nothing, this is fine.It's not ideal because it's harder without adults who love you more than they love themselves. But harder is just harder, that's all.