We’re catchin’ gators, whatcha y’all doin? Perched on a red Kawasaki, my mom and I watched as two young guys baited their lines to catch more gators.
They were making gator tail to freeze in order to keep them from leaving the house for food. Staying a safe distance, we saw worm after worm hit the water, but they couldn’t get the gator. One guy tried to tell the other that his casting form was off, and he smirked and said, “It’s not like you’re catchin’ anything.”
After a few minutes, Mom and I took off on the trails behind our little cabin on the lake at White Water. My dad just finished building the dock and sodding the front lawn, and turtles were sunning on the logs in front of our dock. Winding our way beneath the overwhelming greenery, we passed deer stands that were set up on the perimeter of the corn field, and mosses were splayed out on White Oaks. Our tires glided across the ground blanketed with leaves, and as we got closer to the water, the mosquitos came out for their feast.
We sat for dinner and as we ate, the mosquitoes ate too. I sat across from my parents in the middle of the woods in April. I was supposed to be in my apartment in Baltimore with my friends, but we were all separated and at home. After three years of being away, I had changed. I was no longer the 18-year-old my parents dropped off at Hopkins.
The first few days were great. My parents were excited to see me, and while we were all freaked out and concerned about coronavirus, we were together. As the days passed, we realized that I would actually be home for more than two weeks at a time. My parents tried not to act nervous about readjusting to having their kid back under their roof, and I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought about all the possible problems that could ensue. And of course we started bickering as we were getting used to all of us being in each other’s space again, especially with the added stress of handling coronavirus.
We needed to figure out how to live together again. That’s when it dawned on me that my parents didn’t really know me anymore, and I didn’t know them. I had changed, and my view of them had changed too. The high school parents that set curfews and asked about my homework and every test were gone. I needed to get to know them, and they needed to get to know me.
It’s been a slow process because as we get to know each other, we still struggle to readjust. It’s been difficult to not fall into the overbearing parent and dramatic kid routine that we pulled off so well when I was in high school.
My parents and I decided to make the best of the situation, and since we aren’t able to leave the house, we have been trying to come up with things to do as a family. We’ve been picking books for each other to read, and going to White Water to work on the cabin and scout out the woods. I started asking them questions about their memories growing up, and my mom told me a few stories from her college years that weren’t too incriminating. Once my dad started yapping about the “good ol’ days,” there was no stopping him. He was a party animal, but I wasn’t surprised.
We talked about how different their high school and college experiences were from mine. My parents grew up in the 60s and 70s, and they have been amazed at how much of my life revolves around social media. They are fascinated by Zoom; I think they would like to take my classes just to see how an online class works. I explained Zoom and Blackboard discussions — Netflix Party is up next on our technology adventure. While I’m just explaining how these sites work, we are bonding because I’m sharing a piece of my world with them. I’m giving them a piece of my everyday life while I’m here. Even though I roll my eyes when they ask me to go through it again, I’m glad they’re asking me. I finally have something to teach them in return for everything they have taught me.
I’m no longer the teenager that feels like my parents are ruining my life, so I actually sit and listen to the stories they have to tell. And like always, they listen to mine. While this semester has been stress inducing and honestly scary, I’m happy that I’m using this time to get to know my parents and to reintroduce myself to them.