Monday, September 16, 2013

Turning into Our Parents

Every once in a while, I think I can hear my mother's voice when I talk. It makes me wonder what I'll be like when I'm her age. I recently read about a survey that said that we start turning into our parents when we turn thirty-two, which is how old I am now. It also makes me reflect on some of the advice that my parents gave me as I grew up.

If you keep scowling like that, your face is going to stay that way. 
I scowl like that a lot, especially when my neighbors decide to have a party on the sidewalk in front of our building and leave red cups all over the grass, or when I accidentally flip the channel to an episode of Storage Wars, or when someone tells me that I should stop drinking Coke (they should probably wait to say that until AFTER my caffeine high ends and after I stop bouncing off the walls).  And yet my face hasn't stayed "that way" permanently, and I can still make other facial expressions, like when I look at my students disapprovingly for coming in to class thirty minutes late, or when my face lights up at the sight of a Coca-Cola delivery truck.

Don't stay up too late. You're not a vampire.
When I was a kid, I thought it would be cool to stay up as late as I wanted. But now that I'm an adult, I find myself falling asleep before midnight. It's partly because I automatically wake up early almost every morning, since I'm still used to getting up for 8 AM shifts for my retail jobs or early classes that I have to teach. Now when I wake up at 3 AM because my neighbors are having another one of their "Who needs sleep when we can get drunk?" parties, I'm the one telling them to be quiet and go to bed. (Except I don't exactly use those words when I'm yelling from my window.)

You should spend less time reading novels and more time studying your textbooks.
When I was a kid, I used to hide under my covers or in my closet and read novels with a flashlight. I was an A student, so I figured that I earned the right to read fiction for fun. Reading gave me the chance to escape to different worlds and meet new people. When I read those books, I could forget about all the kids who made fun of me at school, the pressure to excel in all my classes, and the fact that I was overweight, wore thick glasses, and had hair that looked like I should have been in one of those "before" pictures for a shampoo ad. Reading made me happy in a way that few other things did, and I never gave it up. (And I never will.)

You can never be too careful.
Recently I had a "disagreement" with some of my neighbors. Apparently they think it's too much effort to reach into their pockets, take out their key to the front door of the building, and unlock it. So they leave it propped open. I tried to close it, and I told them that it was because I didn't want to let strangers in. They insisted on leaving it open, though, and I figured that if I went all Karate Kid on them, I'd probably get arrested. I know that real life isn't exactly like an episode of Criminal Minds or CSI, but I've encountered (and been harassed and robbed by) more than one scary creep since I moved to Chicago. I'd just feel a lot safer knowing that the door was kept locked and the scary people are kept out. The only time I let people I don't know into the building is if they're delivering mail or pizza (because anyone who delivers pizza is okay in my book).

Even though I can now understand why my parents gave me that advice, I don't think I'll ever be completely like them. The fact that I chose to live in Chicago, pursue teaching and writing, and that I still scowl on a regular basis is proof that I have grown up to be someone very different from them.

I don't think it's a bad thing to become similar to your parents, though I know a lot of people worry about that. What do you think? Do you ever feel like you're turning into your parents, or have you tried to distinguish yourself from them?


  1. I love and respect my parents. I don't want to be just like them, but I do want to emulate all the things they did/do right. And that's a lot of work, so it requires me being more mature than I feel at times. Ha!

    1. Hi Emily,
      It sounds like your parents did a great job raising you; they showed you what it meant to be a role model. One of the things my parents instilled in me was a strong work ethic; they always emphasized how important it was to work hard.

  2. I have frustrating neighbors, too. It's so tough; I want to let them know that what they're doing is not acceptable (in my case, my upstairs neighbors regularly stomp and yell after midnight) and say it seriously enough that they listen, without being a jerk.

    Interesting topic. My voice occasionally sounds like my mom's, but since I've moved to a different state, I've acquired a different accent. But when I'm around her enough, I speak with the old accent again and we sound the very same.

    1. Hi Shelley,
      That's awful about your neighbors; you'd think they'd realize that it's important for them to be considerate of other people. But unfortunately, some people never grow up. Maybe you could call the police and file a noise complaint. Or you could do what I did: file a complaint with the landlord, who will then contact the neighbor about the noise.
      I think it's interesting that you acquired a different accent. I don't have the typical Chicago accent that is heard in some movies, but I wish I did. I also wish I had a New York accent; I think it sounds cool.