Mom strikes back
The girl was planning a trip to the beach with three of her friends. “Do you think your friends would mind if I come along?” asked my wife.
A look of terror mixed with confusion came over the girl’s face. My wife loves the beach, so it would be logical that she might want to go along. I could tell the girl was trying to figure out if this was just one more way in which her parents could torment her.
“I … I guess you could come along,” she said as her eyes shifted from side to side. “I mean, there’s probably enough room and all.”
I stifled a laugh.
“So your friends would be cool with me?” My wife continued the torture.
“Um … maybe … probably … I don’t know.”
At this point, it was almost impossible not to break out in a fit of laughter, but somehow I controlled myself. I imagined my wife riding in the car with four 18-year-old girls. What would they talk about? It would certainly be a different conversation than if they were alone.
“Good,” my wife replied, “I’ll get the days off.”
“Well,” the girl responded in a very quiet voice, “let me talk to my friends first … just to make sure. You understand, right?”
“Don’t your friends like me?”
“I mean, I used to take you all to Cedar Point, and for ice cream, and all of that.”
“I’ve made them homemade pizza, and they all spend the night at our house all the time. They have to like me,” my wife said with feigned desperation.
“Well … it’s just you guys are the strictest parents of all my friends,” said the girl.
“Strictest parents,” I thought to myself. “Good.”
I do not think we are terribly strict. We have a few hard and fast rules, rules like we need to know when you will be home, and when it’s your turn to clean the kitchen, it has to be clean by 10 p.m. so the rest of us can go to bed without the clatter of dishes. Of course everyone has to go to church on Sunday, not just because I am a priest, but because it’s our Christian duty, not to mention it’s good for our spiritual life. My father was not a pastor or priest, and we were in church every Sunday. That’s the rule her friends find really strange.
“I’m not sure my friends really like you,” she finally admitted.
“After all I’ve done?” said my wife in feigned shock.
“Now you’re mad,” said the girl.
My wife and I started laughing. “No,” she said, “I really don't want to go to the beach with four 18-year-old girls. I think it’s kind of funny.”
“No. You're mad,” said the girl.
I could not tell if she was more upset that my wife might want to go to the beach with her friends, or that we were not mad that her friends would not want her to go to the beach. In either case, we had come full circle. Finally, our words had embarrassed her.
I have been a priest for 16 years. I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010. If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.