Doireann turned 18 yesterday. I am now the mother of an 18 year-old. I am sharply inhaling over that. Sweating even. I went out to breakfast with a dear friend yesterday and felt a bit of panic over this, and she kindly said, “You aren’t old enough to have an 18 year-old. You really aren’t.” I felt better, and then I felt silly. Yes, yes, it’s all about me, isn’t it?
Still. 18! She’s going to college in the fall! Where did the years go? I remember everything. It feels like a rare privilege to be given a baby, doesn’t it? And then you get to love and prepare that baby for adulthood. Doireann is an excellent human being. I don’t say that because I’m her mother. She really is a wonderful person. I even enjoy the lesser developed parts of her character. It’s why she is who she is, and I’m going to enjoy seeing how those parts are developed. Frankly, she’ll probably fight it every step of the way, and I’ll hear about it.
When Doireann was young, she was very obnoxious and stubborn. I’m not one of those mothers who believes that her children can do no wrong. On the contrary, I know exactly what’s what. Doireann loved to push buttons and boundaries. There was, however, one thing she liked more than anything else. She loved being right. She was like a little tsar trapped in the body of a toddler. She was vengeful, too, due to her above average intelligence. She could plot and carry out plans. There’s a reason three year-olds should not be able to read.
Suffice it to say, I realized that I could only parent her so much. Life experience was going to have to offer her another sort of parenting. This is what I prayed for since she learns empathy experientially. Enter Thomas.
Thomas is Doireann’s nemesis, and he has been her nemesis since ninth grade. Doireann loathes him. I have heard tale upon tale of Thomas’ disgusting personality, ugly face, and sadistic disposition not to mention his misogyny and intellectual snobbishness. After almost four years of listening to the storied
Clash of The Titans Misadventures of Doireann and Thomas, I had a horrible mental image of what Thomas must look like. Surely, this must be Thomas:
About two months ago while Doireann was ranting about Thomas once again, I remarked that it must be quite difficult to look at the embodiment of Scut Farkus of “A Christmas Story” every day. Joking at the time, I noted that if Ralphie eventually beat Scut up, then how was she able to control herself? She stopped. “What? No, Thomas doesn’t look anything like Scut Farkus.”
“You mean that he doesn’t have yellow eyes and pointy teeth? My gosh, I imagined that he looked something like the devil to be honest.”
“You wanna know what the most horrible human being on Earth looks like? Oh, I’ll show you!”
Well, yes, I wanted to know. The most horrible human being on Earth? Please show me! She immediately found a photo of him and practically shoved her phone in my face. “This. This is Thomas!” she declared with evident hatred.
I was ready for something hideous. Instead I saw this:
Thomas looks just like George Costanza. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not. He apparently has the personality to match. I couldn’t control myself. I covered my face and started laughing. “Oh my gosh, he’s George Costanza! He’s a schlub! Your nemesis is a schlubby George Costanza which is a redundant statement, I know.”
“Who is George Costanza?!” she asked, confused.
How can I explain “Seinfeld” to my 18 year-old daughter? How can I sum up George Costanza? Well, from how she’s described Thomas, I’d say she’s spent the entirety of her high school career getting to know George Costanza by proxy, and I can’t help but laugh. I loved “Seinfeld”, but I really hated George Costanza for all the reasons Doireann loathes Thomas. On Monday night, I finally asked her why she still wanted to punch Thomas in the mouth so badly. She said:
“He is so vile, Mom, because he thinks he knows everything, and he makes other people feel bad about themselves when they don’t know something. And he just sits there looking smug all the time. And his fat, stupid face just annoys me. He thinks he’s better than everyone else just because he thinks he knows things. Intellectual snobbishness is wrong, and getting off on being right at other people’s expense isn’t right either. You have to admit when you’re wrong!”
I listened. I nodded. She looked down. She sighed. “I know that I used to be like that. I struggle with that, too, but I’ve seen what it does to people. It’s wrong. People don’t learn when someone like that is in the room. He hurts people, and I see that now.”
Thomas’ job is done. He no longer serves a purpose. She learned exactly what I could never teach her, and she will never have to see him again in a few months. This is one of the primary reasons I am against helicopter parenting. We, as parents, can’t teach our kids everything that they need to develop in order to become good human beings. Some character traits are developed out there in the world through adversity, and some character traits are filed and buffed away through adversity. Doireann needed Thomas. Thomas may have learned something from knowing Doireann although he would never admit it. What I’ve learned in observing this over the past four years is that there may be people in my own life as well who I don’t like very much, but maybe they are present to teach me something, too.
It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?