5 Ways Adults See Their Best Memories Turn Into Nightmares

I’ve talked before about how, despite what adults tell you, your teens are not the best years of your life. There are some pretty awesome things that happen during that period, but your enjoyment of them has nothing to do with a lack of bills or not having to support a family. That’s what an adult says when they’re fed up with the stress of their own lives and projecting it onto yours. It’s short-sighted and idiotic. Suck it, mom.

It has everything to do with the little milestones that represent growing chunks of freedom. They are, in essence, rites of passage that mean you’re putting your teenage years behind you. You’re escaping. When they happen, you’ll mentally log those as some of the funnest times in your life. Then, when you get older, you’ll flip through your skull’s Dewey Decimal System, pull up those memories … and be absolutely goddamn horrified when you picture your own kids doing seemingly insignificant things like …

#5. Getting Their First Job

Why It’s Important:

Aside from just straight up giving your parents the finger and moving out of the house, getting your first job is the ultimate transition from adolescence into adulthood. If you work a night shift, curfew is more flexible. You likely have your own car, or will soon be buying one, so you’re not dependent on mom or dad’s level of sobriety in order to drive you places. If parents are the ones buying your clothes and entertainment, they likely have a say in what you get, so a job frees you up from all of that. It’s your money. You’ll buy a katana if you want to, goddammit.

In the general public’s idea of “adulthood,” the word “job” is more important than “age.” And it should be. I have 40-year-old relatives rotting away in prison right now because smoking foils and stealing shit was more important to them than seeing their kids graduate high school. Those people aren’t adults. The adults in their families are the kids who figured out this one basic financial formula: “Work for the shit I need. Save for the shit I want. Oh, and don’t fuck with meth.”

Don’t vape, either. It makes you look like a twat.

Why It Scares The Shit Out Of Parents:

Up until this point, the only real authority figures in your lives have been parents and teachers. Cops don’t really count unless you’re a sociopath, and even then, there’s not a lot they can do to punish minors. But when you make that transition into the working world, you have a brand-new set of second parents in the form of supervisors and managers. And as adults, we know that most of those are clinical assholes.

We’re not so much concerned about the way they treat you as humans. We know from experience that your life is going to be like that Harry Potter scene where they’re trapped in that vault and all of the treasure starts reproducing. Except instead of gold and silver goblets, it’s an unceasing explosion of assholes. An asshole geyser, if you will. We’re more worried that you’re still in the process of learning how to be a socially functioning human, and we don’t want some power-tripping dickhead influencing how you perceive and treat the rest of the world.

We’ve had our own jobs as teenagers, and we know that there are employees who steal and get away with it. We don’t want them teaching you how to do that, because if you get caught, you’re screwed. And even if you don’t get caught, you’re a piece of shit. We know that there are bosses who can easily make you think that the correct way to manage is to scream, curse, and throw tantrums. Or on the other end of that spectrum are managers who let employees get away with things that would get their asses fired in a more serious “adult” job.

“… the FUCK outta here!”

No, it’s not that we’re afraid of how they’ll treat you. We’re afraid of what they could turn you into. Seventeen years of hard work teaching you the right thing can be undone with a single dose of the unfiltered world. I’ve seen it happen. And yeah, I know that not all kids are precious little angels just waiting to be corrupted by the cruel, remorseless world. But the more rebellious, anti-authority kids tend to learn a lot quicker when they come to work in a bad mood, tell their boss to go fuck himself, and then watch their work history collapse for the next five years. That’s a whole new set of fears, because if that kid has already started paying for his or her first car and then loses their job … congratulations, parents! You just added a new car payment to your budget.

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Oh, and speaking of cars …

#4. Driving A Car On Their Own For The First Time

Why It’s Important:

It’s a car. Come on. You just spent the last few months in driver’s ed, learning all of the rules that everyone ignores the second they start driving on their own. You spent the (in my state) 40 hours of mandatory driving with a parent in the passenger seat. Not all at once. That would be silly. You’re silly. Stop being silly.

You sillyass.

Every little imperfection has been pointed out while we held your hand through the process. You’ve sat through dozens of lectures from teachers, parents, aunts, and uncles — and if you’re crazy rich, that sweet talking car from Knight Rider — explaining how the world is full of bad drivers, and you should always be looking out for “the other guy.” Always wear your seat belt. Never, ever, eeeever drink and drive. Don’t even take a chance with your cellphone. Just turn that shit off. If you try to merge while eating an egg salad sandwich, your face will fall off.

Those are deviled eggs, dipshit. Those are fine.

Finally, all of that bullshit is over with. It’s time to grab the keys, put on your awesome NASCAR helmet with flames painted down the sides, and hit the open road. No more lectures. No more, “How many times have I told you to HIT THE FUCKING BRAKES when you turn a corner?!” Eat me, Grandma. This is my world, now.

Why It Scares The Shit Out Of Parents:

The most obvious reason is that you are piloting a machine that will end you before you even have time to shit your pants. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t know someone who died in a car accident. The not-so-obvious reason, unfortunately, is one of trust. Both of you and everyone else in the entire world. Sorry, but I’m going to get all real up in your shorts for a minute. That’s a thing kids say, right?

The truth is that we’ve seen you at your dumbest. If my oldest son is reading this, understand that I’m not calling you dumb as an individual. I’m talking in a blanket sense. Ask any adult you want about whether or not they considered themselves smart and worldly as a teenager, and they’ll laugh you out of the room. “Oh Christ, no. I was dumb as owl shit.” One time I jumped from the top of a two-story barn into a snow drift that was only two feet deep because I thought it would be fluffy and soft. It was not. My brother once wondered if hairspray would still ignite if it was dry, and set a girl’s head on fire. Neither of those statements are jokes.

It makes me feel better to remember it like this.

We’ve seen the dumb shit you do, and we shudder when we think about the stuff we haven’t seen. The idea that you could space out for even a few seconds while driving a car sends us into a blind panic. Then add on top of that the idiocy of every other person who exists outside of your windshield. People blowing through red lights at full speed. Drunk drivers. Little kids sprinting out into the street to chase down a ball. In my part of the country, we have suicidal deer as big as ponies.

So it’s not just that we’ve seen you at your worst, and we’re hoping you can shed that while behind the wheel. We’re thinking about all of the accidents or near misses that we’ve seen as adults with decades of experience under our belts, and it’s still hard. And that’s not a dick joke.

#3. Staying With Friends While Their Parents Are Gone

Why It’s Important:

Of all the things on this list, this is the one I remember the most fondly. The first time I was allowed to spend the weekend with my friends and no adults around was incredible. A group of about ten of us decided to go on a camping trip at the end of the school year. The ones who were old enough to drive picked up the rest, so it was two trucks, which meant a whole shitload of us rode in the bed. The second we pulled away from the last house, we all transformed into raw teenage boys, cursing out the kind of insults at each other which in retrospect make me die a little inside. Teenage boys are weird.

Along the way, the drivers decided to race. So at barely sunrise, we were throwing donuts at each other, going 90 side-by-side on the highway. Again, with most of the guys sitting or standing loose in the beds of pickup trucks.

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When we got to the campsite, we unloaded all of our fishing poles, food, tents, blankets, pillows, beer … oh, and guns. Probably 20 of them, ranging from run-of-the-mill 12-gauge shotguns to .45 autos to an AK-47 or two. By sundown, every one of us was drunk as shit, firing weapons and throwing unspent bullets into the campfire. Nobody remembered to bring water, so when we ran out of beer, we had to just drink the melted ice from the dirty-ass coolers. It was freedom at its purest.

Just move the fish aside. There’s water underneath.

Why It Scares The Shit Out Of Parents:


OK, my personal illustration of dumbassery aside, there are legitimately more subtle reasons this scares parents. Take away the camping, the guns, the booze, and the race that gave 20 middle fingers to Death himself, and we still have stuff to worry about.

All of the fun stuff that we tell our kids not to do … those are the things they’re going to immediately dive into the second we’re out of sight. I’ve accepted that there’s a pretty good chance my kids, like most kids, will eventually experiment with drugs. But when they do, I hope to god it’s just pot and not something that was made in some redneck’s bathtub. Our state (like most states) has a fairly bad problem with prescription drug abuse. About one in five teenagers will try them at some point, and they are super easy to get. In fact, they’re much, much easier to get on the streets than they are from a doctor. My kids are smart, but not so smart that I trust them to know how much Vicodin is safe to take versus their body weight, metabolism, personal resistances to pain killers, and whether or not they’re allergic to the medication in the first place.

“Just grab a handful. They’re healthy.”

When we’re talking about that shit, we’re far beyond a night of giggling and eating Twinkies. We’re talking about highly addictive medication that can kill your ass if you go overboard. But enough about drugs. That’s probably just the paranoid addict in me talking.

We still worry about what liberties they’re going to take when we’re not around. Simple things like staying out after curfew. In a small town, it’s not that big a deal, but in a larger city, you might as well be painting a neon bullseye on their asses, along with a sign that says, “Please beat the shit out of me and take my wallet. I am the dumping grounds for your drunken 3 a.m. rage!” Hell, even in a small town, pull up a website that shows the locations of sexual predators in your area, and tell me that doesn’t make you want to teach them some Deadpool shit.

But as a parent, you just have to finally learn to let go and give them a little slack. It’s just really hard to trust someone who has to be reminded on a daily basis to brush their teeth. It’s even harder to trust the strangers in a town whom you regularly fantasize about being on fire.

#2. Their First Date

Why It’s Important:

If there’s anything that’s as or more important to adulthood than a job, it’s a romantic connection. It doesn’t have to be a soul-punching, angelic-chorus-singing, fate-affirming “love of your life.” I’m just talking about reaching that first big leap of maturity when you gain the desire and ability to connect with another human on a more-than-friends level.

And I’m not talking about prom or homecoming or the annual “Not Smoking Is Cool” dance. Those are social contracts — commitments you make because everyone else is going, and you want to dress in a rich person’s costume and cram 17 people into a limo so you can all eat at TGI Fridays before getting puke-on-your-shoes drunk.

The real rite of passage is asking someone out because you want to take them out. Not with a group of friends, and not for some big special event; just two people enjoying each others’ company. That is the special event. That is the end goal. It’s what adults do.

And for some reason, couples are really attracted to water. No idea why.

Why It Scares The Shit Out Of Parents:

Adults also know how to handle assholes. We know what excuses sound legitimate if we want to end that shit early and forget it ever happened. We know how to recognize when someone just wants a shot at our genitals or our wallets. We can tell the difference between a contrived bullshit line and a sincere (if cheesy) sentiment. We know what statements and physical actions are moving too fast, and what ones aren’t moving fast enough.

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Well, some of us. The truth is that we have a better idea than teenagers, but sometimes even we get it wrong. That’s why it’s scary to us. If, after all of our own experiences, we still have trouble figuring out who’s legitimately into us and who is just trying to physically and metaphorically fuck us, then how can we expect you to? That’s the hardest part for a parent: forcing yourself to step back and let the emotional bomb go off. Then help clean the brains off the wall after it does. OK, that metaphor got a bit gross.

You kids need to stop having dates in this alley!

And all of that is if the dates go badly. If it goes a little too well … I’d just like to be well into my 50s before someone calls me “Grandpa.” All I can do is teach them about all of this stuff and then bite my nails until they come back home. At exactly 9:00. No, wait, 8:30. Maybe 7. That’s fair, right?

But probably the weirdest thing we’re afraid of …

#1. None Of That Stuff Happening When It Should

Why It’s Important

I didn’t have my first real date until I was in college. I was perfectly content to hang out by myself, playing video games, drawing, or playing guitar, than to go out with anyone, including friends. My friends and family thought there was something wrong with me, which in turn made me think there was something wrong with me. Maybe there was, but I just knew I was happier by myself than I was around other people. Because of that, there were a whole lot of “rites of passage” that I missed out on. Personally, I didn’t care then, and I don’t regret it now.

In certain respects, my own kids are like that too. My daughter can close her bedroom door and disappear for the rest of the day. My middle son can do the same thing. If I open his door every two hours, he’ll be in the same position every time, happily shooting his friends in their stupid video game faces. Same with my oldest son. They all have friends. They all do things with them. We go out as a family from time to time and get away from the house. But left to their own devices, they are perfectly content entertaining themselves. Also, all of them own katanas, so … maybe we’re not representative of the average family.

This is how we see the world. We don’t do reality well.

But we’re happy.

Why It Scares The Shit Out Of Parents:

I’m fine with letting them do their own thing at their own pace, but there is still a side of me as a parent that thinks, “Are they OK? Should I make them call their friends and go out for a while? Maybe I should organize a gaming party or something so their social group is physically present. Should I set up a camping trip for them? Wait, no. Never let them go camping. Ever.”

I’m not about to pressure them into those transitions, because my parents tried that with me, and it was about as effective as treating a sunburn with hydrofluoric acid. They’re happy kids, and before I know it, they’ll be happy adults. If, of course, they don’t inherit my seething hatred for all things earthbound.

It’s just hard to remember that those rites of passage aren’t set in stone. They’ll happen when they happen, and I can’t use my own fucked-up childhood as a measuring stick for when it should. Everything I’ve taught them has been preparation for those moments, and how they’ll handle life when I’m not around. Because if they can’t handle it … well, that’s on me. And yeah, that scares the living shit out of me.

Learn why every teenage boy wants to beat up the bully in The 12 Most Common Fantasies Teenage Boys Have, and see why some phases you never grow out of in 21 Famous Villains During Their Awkward Teenage Years.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-teenage-milestones-that-scare-crap-out-parents/