My dad has a favorite saying about child-rearing: It’s not the nine months before…it’s the ninety-nine years after that kill you. I didn’t realize how seriously my parents still take their parental responsibilities until this week. But before I go on, let me explain that I’m a parent AND a grandparent, and my folks are in their mid-eighties. One would think that they could relax and look back on a job well-done, right?
Well, read on.
My Harlequin SuperRomance Out of the Depths is an August release (Yay! Soon … very soon!) One of the settings in the book is a cave, and in the Dear Author letter at the front of the book, I explain how I came up with that setting. Last week, I received my author copies, and I took the first one to my parents to whom the book is dedicated. They were very proud (note the use of past tense).
Two days ago, my parents came for dinner. Dad stayed on the deck where my husband was grilling, but Mother came into the kitchen to join me and to do a little grilling of her own. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hey! (gave her a hug)
Mother: When did you go cave exploring?
Me: Back in high school.
Mother: I didn’t ever know it.
Me: Yes, you did.
Mother: No, I didn’t. You must’ve sneaked off without telling us.
Me: No, I didn’t. You gave your permission.
Mother: We wouldn’t have given our permission for you to do something that dangerous.
Me: Yeah, you did.
Mother: Who drove?
Now at this point, I was a little baffled we were having this conversation, and she was actually angry.
Me: I don’t remember. It was over forty years ago.
Mother: Well, teenagers are such bad drivers. You had to have sneaked out and not told us.
Me: (deciding it was time to change the subject) I’ve got to get these veggies out to the grill. (I pick up said veggies and hustle out. I greet my dad with a hug).
Dad: Your mom is mad at you for going cave exploring.
Reread first part substituting Dad in Mother’s role.
Anyway, you get the point. I was telling my husband about it later, and it hit me what was going on. My parents are afraid someone is going to think they were bad parents because I did something dangerous. Even at eighty-five that weighs heavy on them. So, to make peace in the family and allow them to keep their honor badge for good parenting, I’d like to set the record straight.
My parents never knew I went spelunking (I’ll put the real truth in parentheses. It will just be between you and me. Yes, they did and they gave their permission.) I sneaked out (no, I didn’t). No one drove. We hiked to the cave and back (it was fifteen miles away, so someone drove—maybe too fast). When I came home filthy after a day in the cave, I told them my friends and I had been planting crops to feed the homeless (oh c’mon—surely a writer could’ve come up with a better alibi than this).
And there you have it. The truth. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
If you run into my parents, please pat them on the back and assure them they’re still doing a good job. I mean, if it’s ninety-nine years of worry, we’re only a bit past half-way.