I was never a bad kid growing up, per se. I tried to follow the rules my parents set for me, but only the ones I found fair. I tried to abide by their punishments for breaking said rules, but always found ways around them. I tried to make them see what a good little girl I was, but only to their faces. It’s not like I was a horrible troublemaker hell bent on disobeying my parents. They didn’t even set me that many boundaries. The penalties for defying them were never very harsh. But I was a girl that knew what she wanted, and entering adolescence brought this trait out like no other time in my life.
Book smarts were my forte, but common sense I lacked. I had no idea what to do with a maturing mind and body, even though I could explain everything in perfect scientific language and detail that was causing these changes. I suppose everyone goes through a stage where Mommy and Daddy “no longer know best,” but mine seemed worse than everyone else’s. My twelve-year-old brain functioned at a much higher level than my parents’ did, and I was determined to make them see that, even if it meant doing things that I wouldn’t normally do. Of course, once I started hanging out with a tough crowd and staying out later, the rules tightened. It was suffocating. It was embarrassing. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted.
A twelve-year-old girl who scares easily should never see a rated-R movie, but one night, I decided that’s exactly what I would do. For some reason, I never thought to lie to my parents about where I was going. Maybe I had to ask them to buy my ticket. Whatever the case, an argument the likes of which no one in my family had ever heard before broke out when my mother put her foot down. Insults laced with swear words spewed out of my mouth when she refused to let me go. She remained calm and collected until I told her she was jealous of my abundance of friends, and that’s why she didn’t want me to have any fun. (Her best friend of years had just moved across the country.) This statement produced the slap heard ‘round the world. One quick movement. Right across my face. The sheer shock of it calmed me down enough to turn and cry my anger out silently in the bathroom. When I finally returned, the reprimands I was sure to get never came. My mommy and daddy both kissed me on the cheek and told me to go play outside with my friends until it got dark.
From that day forward, I was able to appreciate my parents in a new light. I never again thought of them as pushovers or life-ruiners. They were my parents. They knew best. And they did an excellent, respectable job on the rebellious pre-teen Jessica.
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