Saturday, July 21, 2018

JWTYHCOYO… the Teen Years

JWTYHCOYO! is an abbreviation for “Just wait till you have children of your own!” It’s the title of a 1974 book about parenthood by housewife/columnist Erma Bombeck. 

The phrase JWTYHCOYO! actually came from Bombeck’s own youth. I don’t remember what she and her mother were arguing about; I don’t recall whether Bombeck herself remembered. What stuck was the image of her mother turning to her and saying “Never mind why I’m smiling. Just wait till you have children of your own.” 

In a blog post last winter, I reported that I’d had my first opportunity to use Bombeck’s line on one of my own children.

Last month my daughter Rosalind turned thirteen. Sixteen days later my daughter Eleanor also passed the teenager milestone.

Recently I had a flashback to an incident that occurred thirty years ago, when I was in my early twenties. I was home visiting my parents in Bellingham between semesters of law school. I noticed a  a brand-new copy of a book about parenting teenagers.

I pointed out to my mother that it was a bit late to be closing this particular barn door, as I’d entered and then exited the teen years some time before. Obviously I’d been a model child, with no need for specialized manuals.

My mother sighed. She said, “I used to have children in their teens. Now I have teenagers.”

Unlike my parents, I enjoyed a very brief teenager honeymoon.

Last weekend my family marched in the Bellingham Pride Parade. We carried signs and wore T shirts letting the community know I’m running for the Washington Court of Appeals. Rather than make a float or find a convertible, I borrowed a couple of adorable dogs from my ex to complement my adorable children. (FYI, Bear and Buster are both “Aussiedoodles,” which means they’re the size of poodles but keep trying to herd you like an Australian shepherd.) 

As you can see from the picture, one member of the family declined to wear her campaign T-shirt, and instead insisted on wearing a black shirt in the blazing sun. The entire length of the parade she whined nonstop about how mortifying it would be if someone from school saw her.

I hope I live long enough to see Eleanor parent teenagers. JWTYHCOYO….

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