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Parental Controls

Parental Controls

(From Within My Illusions)

I tell my dad that there are times

when I’m home doing the stuff –

you know, the adulting stuff –

and I look around and think,

Where did all the grownups go

and who left me in charge?

He laughs and says that sometimes

he catches his reflection in a store window

and wonders who the old man is

staring back at him?

My teenage boy’s annoyed

about the parental controls

on his phone which require my approval

before he can download a new app.

I tell him that sometimes

parental controls are annoying

and sometimes they are helpful.

I tell him that his job

is to push the boundaries

and my job is to hold them.

I don’t like this part of the job very much.

Sometimes I hate that I wasted

so many tired years

wanting him to grow up faster

when now all I want

is to slow things down

and keep him close a little longer.

As if I could place a parental control on time.

My little girl tells me

that my New Year’s resolution

should be to practice patience

because sometimes (often)

I interrupt her questions

before she finishes asking,

because I already know

what she’s going to ask

and that the answer will be no.

She says she doesn’t care

as much about the answer.

She wants me to hear her.

But I hate how often the word No

comes out of my mouth:

Can I just have a little activity book? No.

A small Lego? No.

A make-your-own stuffed animal? No.

Pottery? No.

Froot Loops? No.

Icee? No.

Smoothie? No.


When will you let me have Sprite? Never.

Pizza? Fine.

She and I spent so much time and excitement

looking for the perfect loft bed for her room.

I didn’t stop to think how far away

she would feel as she drifts off to sleep

five feet above the ground.

And though the rule is

she sleeps in her bed on weeknights,

I smile in the morning when I wake

to find she has landed in mine.

This boundary suddenly seems

as ridiculous to me

as trying to control

who they are becoming.

“You know, she’s going to have

to grow up eventually,”

her brother tells me.

I wonder if there’s still a little boy

inside this wise young man

who stands in front of me.

His next question: “Hey Mom,

can we make the frosting

for my birthday cake?”

reassures me.

Chocolate spreads over his face

As he licks the mixer blade.

“You know,” I say,

“You can use your fingers

to scrape off the frosting.

You’ll get more out of it that way.”

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