80: You Don’t Get It

80: You Don’t Get It

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Middle School

You Don’t Get It

Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.

~Oscar Wilde

“You don’t get it,” my daughter, Betsy, reminded her dad and me when she was frustrated with us. She was in middle school and had strong feelings about protecting her image. She was easily embarrassed and impatient with the unintentional blunders of her parents.

When I bought her a pair of nice slacks, she rolled her eyes and complained. “You don’t get it. These aren’t ‘in,’ they’re ‘nerdy.’” To prove her point, she insisted I come to school on Parents’ Day and notice the styles of the students’ unwritten dress code. I saw the other girls wearing dark corduroy pants... and understood.

On the subject of underwear, the word “bra” was Betsy’s forbidden three-letter word. One Saturday, while shopping in a mall, I asked her if she needed some bras. “Mom! Shhhh,” she replied, as though I had shouted foul language. She stooped her shoulders, quickly glanced at the other shoppers and whispered, “You don’t get it. People will hear you say that word and I’ll just die.”

The day arrived when Betsy hit her limit of being embarrassed by her parents. She called after band practice saying she needed a ride home. Her dad was in the middle of painting shelves but said he’d rush over to get her. He didn’t have time to shower and change out of his work clothes, so he wore his stained and sweaty shorts and shirt. When he arrived at the band room, it was teeming with students waiting for rides. He stood alone in the doorway, perspiring and grungy, and searched the crowd for his daughter. Then he heard Betsy’s familiar voice yell out to the group, “Hey everybody. Someone’s dad is here.”

He got it.

~Miriam Hill

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