I didn't go through teenage rebellious years until I was 42 years old, when I ran away from home and did most of what my friends had done in high school.
I was a perfect child with an intense desire to please my parents, and a profound fear of disappointing them. For my parents this was great. My father ordered me to be home by 9:00; I was home by 8:59. My mother asked me to wash the dishes; I asked if the floor needed cleaning, also.
I've never figured out how my parents did it. None of the tactics they used worked for me with my children.
As a teenager my mother described how easy it was to become pregnant. According to her a man and a woman could be a city block apart, but his sperm had the ability to travel highways, jump fences, and leap tall buildings toward a goal of reaching that woman. I believed my mother, and that belief kept me scared and virginal.
Years later I praised her for telling me that preposterous story to keep me on the straight and narrow.
"I didn't make that up," she glowered. "It's the truth."
I tried that yarn on my kids and they laughed in my face. They had what I hadn't... Sex Education.
My parents were loving, demonstrative and consistent in their expectations and promises. They ruled with iron hands and velvet gloves. I don't remember my mother ever raising her voice or losing patience. It wasn't necessary.
As a parent I, on the other hand, was not like my mother. When reasoning, begging, bribing, negotiating and shouting didn't get my daughter to clean her room, she returned from school to find everything she owned on the front lawn where I'd tossed it out of her second floor bedroom window; a humiliation she still admonishes me for.
My father told us daily, "Children are to be seen and not heard." So, when I had children I determined that they would be allowed to have minds of their own, and I let them know that their thoughts, opinions and ideas mattered.
And then, I lived to regret it.
My daughter was in kindergarten when she asked which dress she should wear; the pink one or the yellow one.
"They're both nice," I answered.
"No. You tell me," she insisted.
"You're old enough to decide for yourself," I prevailed.
"I can't," she whined. "You tell me. You tell me."
Thinking that perhaps she wasn't yet mature enough to make such a decision I yielded to her whimpering. "I like the pink one," I said.
She promptly selected the yellow one.
It got worse from there.
As the years passed my children's decision making abilities developed as I'd hoped they would, but I was challenged every step of the way. Rarely did their conclusions match mine, and often their decisions brought dire consequences, but in the end they were better prepared for life than I was.
The price I paid for being unconditionally obedient was exorbitant. I was in my late thirties before I realized I had the right to my own thoughts, and it took several additional years before I found the courage to express them.
Unlike me as a child, my children were not perfect. They were normal children, reaching, growing, challenging and testing. That is, after all, their role. They are parents themselves, now, and my only prayer is that the words I spoke to them so often during their formative years, have remained with them: "I hope to God I live long enough to watch you go through the same hell with your children, that I went through with you."
"We bought our grandchildren a battery-powered car. Abby got in and was frustrated that her feet could not reach the pedals. Being the independent and 'assertive' girl that she is, she said to me, 'You, get in, drive' and off we went." -Paula Soffer
"The moment my grandson Charlie was born, it was like falling in love for the first time. When we're together, our time is spent laughing, reading, and playing whatever game Charlie wants to play. There are no limits to the silliness that takes place when we're together! My heart melts each time he smiles when he sees his Grandma Vicki. Charlie Pasternak is my best friend!" -Vicki Pasternak
"I am Ari's Grammie. I live in Dallas and he lives in New York. We don't get to visit in person that much, so we video-chat most days. Thanks to 21st century technology, we are virtual grandparents. We have eaten dinner together, played with toys, and sung. We've watched him reach many milestones like walking thanks to technology. We stay updated, though we wish we lived closer. We cherish the times we actually get to spend with him and hope there will be many more to come." -Michele Kesner
"We are loving being first-time grandparents! Evan is the most precious little boy with the most adorable personality! He makes us laugh and fills our hearts with so much love! If we would have known grandchildren were going to be this much fun, we would have had them first! We are anxiously waiting the arrival of our second grandchild in October!" -Cindy Weinstein
"Hi I'm Stephanie: a young grandmother. I have five of my own grandchildren ages 14 to 16 months and four of my fiancé's grandchildren. I'm considered the cool, active grandma. This is me with Jakob, 10, and Jesi, 9. They are both runners like myself. They have been running for three years and both run 5K races regularly and are at the top of their field. I spend a lot of time with them. Kind of like co-parenting but me being the grandparent." -Stephanie N. Torres
"Alex and me at Gulliver's Kingdom." -Maureen Dean Bartlett
"My grandkids make my inner child come out to play! And what fun we have -- true JOY!!" -Denise Lilly
"I was extremely close to my grandparents and their presence in my life greatly formed my perceptions of food, gardening, my Swedish heritage and the essence of family love generation after generation. I couldn't be more delighted to see my parents evolve the teachings of their parents as they interact with my 1-yr old daughter, who couldn't love her "gamma and gampapa" more. The more love the better, and without grandparents, we'd be missing one of the most important relationships in life." -Jamie Smith
"The best place for a nap is in Grandma's arms! This is Reagan's only living grandparent and she loves her very much." -Alice H
"Alice and me, lovingly admiring every inch of her." -Marília Levacov
"I was in the birthing room when my daughter gave birth, and I even cut the chord. She is now 11 months old and she makes us smile everytime we see her. Now that she and her mother are living wih us, our hearts are filled everyday with so much joy and so much love. And everytime she waves her grandfather smiles from ear to ear." -Helen Scrivener
"A grand love affair! Grandmother born July 10, granddaughter born July 17, exactly 80 years apart! Best friends!" -James Church
"After an exciting and exhausting day of riding Thomas the Tank Engine and visiting Santa Isabelle isn't too tired to appreciate sympathy and a smile from Opa. Izzie is the only girl in our four grandchildren and knows that she is special." -Art Pence
"Grandma Francine & Karley walk with Easter Bonnets on" -Tom Jacobs
"I didn't really want to be a grandparent this early in life, but my little buddy Sarge (aka "Holden Christopher") changed my mind in a hurry. There is no doubt that he favors me. Look at what he "chose" to wear on his very first Halloween. Tie-dye, just like Opa! He is truly a blessing beyond belief." -Dan Walden
"I enjoy my grandchildren so much! Fortunately both my daughters live nearby so I see my grandchilren often. They have grown up together and are very close, I love that! This is a photo of my daughter Misty's birthday. Sitting with her on the sofa are her children Kyle and Jessica, her older son Tyler is in in the back along with his cousins Casey & Jaden." -Michele Taylor
"Happiness is...grandmothering. What better way is there to celebrate a birthday than with grandchildren?" -Suzie
Follow Laverne H. Bardy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LaverneBardy