The good ones:
"Joey took his first steps today!"
"Maggie wrote her name in cursive!"
And the bad ones:
"Bobby pooped his diaper and smeared it all over the walls!"
"Jane cussed out the lady at the post office!"
We smile and nod, sharing all of these triumphs and horrors as parents. Much of our conversation and validation centers around knowing that our child is "normal", and that there is hope for them and for us. We care nothing, really, for their privacy, because we feel like we are not talking about their lives, but ours. They are an extension of us, they are our lives. Or, at least, the work of our lives.
And then something weird happens when they become teenagers. Suddenly, we can't share all of their doings and goings-on. Somehow we have handed over to them their lives and we are just in this strange peripheral orbit around them, desperately trying to keep them in balance, or from colliding into everyone else in the system. Now, the events of their lives are theirs to tell, not ours. Now we embarrass them, or we violate their privacy. We interfere.
Which sort of stinks, because now? Now the stories get really good. And more than ever, some validation would be great.
Oh, man. How come all my best material is off-limits?