Teens. Value their privacy, they do. They don't want adults, parents in particular, knowing the ins and outs of their private lives. My kids are better than most, I think. They share quite a bit with me. Not, perhaps, the very second it happens, but I generally know the important stuff that's going on. But do they share every heartbeat? No. Do they keep things from me? Of course they do. Just as I keep parts of my life private from them. It's adult-to-near-adult courtesy.
It's also self-preservation. For the most part, I don't want to know the details. I remember the soap opera that is high school, and I don't miss it. I have no interest in plunging back into that seething slough of hormones and angst, not even vicariously. Bad enough when they bring their seething sloughs of hormones and angst home.
It doesn't matter though, because even when they think they're keeping things from me, I know. I'll always know. Always. It's not that the kids are so open and honest with me. It's not a mystical connection. It's not that I have a mother's second sight, woman's intuition, ESP, nor even eyes in the back of my head. None of those.
My kids never pick up after themselves.
I can tell at a glance what they had for their afternoon snack. (Orange juice, bagel with cheese, banana.) I know where they shop. (American Eagle, Garage, Dynamit) I know how much junk food they eat. (More than they should.) I know about teacher interviews they'd rather I didn't. Because they leave the evidence everywhere. On the counter, on the couch, on the dining table, on the floor of the front hall. While I despair of their slovenly ways (and blame my lack of strict training in their early years), I'd miss all this insight if they became suddenly tidy.
My son Daniel (18) has a girlfriend. Lovely girl. They've been together four months or so. So, being a responsible parent, I casually remind the
boy young man of our safe sex talks, and further remind the boy young man where the condoms are kept. (In a cosmetics bag on a shelf by the bathroom door, refilled without counting. He knows this. It's been there for about five years, since his older sister was a little younger than he is now.)
"Don't worry, mom. I know where they are, but we haven't gotten there yet."
Do I believe him? Not really. It's possible, but, given how they spend any private moment so thoroughly entwined, not likely. Bottom line, though, it's his business. As long as he's using the damned condoms!
My kids are responsible to do their own laundry. Thus, if I shift their laundry from the washer to the dryer, or from the dryer to a laundry basket, they know I'm doing them a favour. It's a good system. Today it's Daniel whose laundry need to be shifted from washer to dryer so I can start my own load.
There at the bottom of the drum, under the wet darkness of the laundry I'm hauling out, I catch a glimmer of something white and shiny. A tidy little condom-packet. Not one of the dark foil packs from the cosmetic bag on the shelf by the bathroom. White plastic, and -- ugh -- banana-flavoured. Definitely not one of the house stock. Guess he doesn't believe me when I say we don't count them. Hell, I wouldn't believe me, either.
But now I know. I always do.