You Don’t Understand

Every good parent wants the best for their child. For example, if I was bounced around from home to home as a child, I should want better for my own children. It just makes sense. Well, last week, I picked up my daughters from after school care without knowing what conversation I would soon be entertaining.

“Hey girls!” I said. “How was school?”

“Good,” they responded.

“What was your favorite part of the day, Grace?” I asked.

“Well, eating this yogurt you got me from McDonald’s, and lunch because we had cheese pizza and pineapples,” she said.

“Awesome! What about you, Faith? What was your favorite part of the day?”

“Well, I didn’t have one because you won’t let me get a phone, and it’s not fair!” she yelled.

“Why do you need a cell phone, darling, when you are only eight years old?” I asked.

“Well, it should be MY choice because I’m spending MY money! ” (she’s referring to her piggy bank)

“Well, sweetheart, I didn’t get a cell phone until I bought my own. I was eighteen, ” I said.

“You’re always comparing me to you and the olden days. You don’t understand!” she exclaimed.

I’ll stop right there. Did she just say “the olden days“? Ummm, I am NOT old! I haven’t even turned 30 yet–not that 30 is old, because it definitely is NOT. Ha ha! These kids. My daughter is eight years old, and I’m already hearing the “you don’t understand” speech from her. God only knows what the teen years are going to be like!

Do you know why this conversation saddens me? My daughter thinks that I’m the one who doesn’t understand, when in reality, she is the one who doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand what it takes to be a parent. She doesn’t understand the sacrifices my husband and I have made to ensure that she and her sisters have the best in life. She doesn’t know that my husband and I have gone without just so that she and her sisters can partake in soccer, chorus, and ballet. Or so that we can buy her and her sisters clothes and shoes. Children are constantly outgrowing things! She doesn’t understand the struggle I go through in trying to be a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a graduate student–simultaneously. Some days I feel like I want to hurl myself onto the floor, and make everyone and everything around me disappear. My stress level is on high alert many days. She doesn’t understand. She just doesn’t understand. How could she? She’s only eight years old.

You know what? The more and more I think about, I think a little struggle never hurt anyone. Of course, I want the best for my children. However, I think sometimes in our quest to give our kids the best, we as parents can handicap them. We give them this false notion that everything comes easily in life, and that no one has to work for anything. Life is not like that.

So, yeah, she’s yelling at me now about how unfair I am for not allowing her to have a cell phone at the tender age of eight, but if God allows us to live long enough, she will understand one day. She will understand how much her dad and I love her, and how we would do anything to give her a better chance at being successful, respectful, strong, and independent in life.


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