I often try to understand my children better by thinking back to my childhood. When the things they do and say baffle me, I try to remember how I thought about life when I was their age. And though parenting is full of uncertainties and tough decisions, as a kid I was pretty sure that I had it all figured out. There was no indecision back then. I knew exactly what I wanted for my future, and I often put it all down on paper.
You see, back in the 80s there was this game called MASH that we would play at school with our classmates every chance we’d get. It stood for mansion, apartment, shack, house – categories of what you would potentially live in as an adult. Everyone played a little differently, but essentially there were up to eight categories of life choices, such as spouse, city you would live in, how many kids you would have, what car you would drive and what you would do for a living. Through some random selection process your choices were scratched out until just one remained in each category, dictating the future life you’d have.
And when I played, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was pretty sure it was all very possible. Shockingly, however, life turned out just a little different than I had imagined.
First off, I would definitely live in Beverly Hills. I mean, I listed Paris and Las Vegas as backups obviously (because it doesn’t get classier than Vegas, right?), but the epicenter of glamour was the only place I wanted to live. I’d be Shelley long from Troop Beverly Hills and my best friends would be graduates of Sweet Valley high. Now I live in New Jersey. (No offense New Jersey).
I would definitely be married to Ricky Schroder or Matthew Broderick (in character as Ferris Bueller every single day). I would also settle for Jake Ryan from 16 Candles, but he was a clear third choice.
I would drive a limousine, since that was the most luxurious, decadent car ever. But I would settle for a Rolls Royce or maybe a Corvette. I never listed a minivan. Or, more specifically, a massive car-seat filled minivan with discarded cereal bar wrappers on the floor.
I would have two children, for sure. See previous comment about car-seat filled minivan and then multiply that number by two.
And I would be a teacher, since that would clearly support my Rolls Royce driving, Beverly Hills living lifestyle. My backup career would be rock star (since my weekly piano lesson should count for something), but being a teacher was the ideal life for me. Parents everywhere should breathe a collective sigh of relief that career didn’t pan out.
So when my daughter tells me that one day she’s definitely living in Rome, marrying Justin Bieber and having 6 children, I don’t worry. I simply remind myself that none of that is likely to come true.
And on the off chance it does, my son in law can finally buy me that retirement condo in Beverly Hills.