The First Time Your Child YOLOs You


The other day my teen did something that I didn’t think was so great. Nothing major or important and certainly nothing worth going into details about because one thing I know about teens today is that they don’t love being used for blog fodder and the reason that I know this is that she told me “don’t blog about me, mom”.


And so I try not to. Or at least I try to limit it to that place where our lives intersect and let me tell you it’s hard not to feel that our lives intersect at every breath she takes, because that’s what parenthood is like . And yet I know that I have to step back and let her take those breaths and those steps and those many other things because that’s how real life works.

So last week when she did something that i didn’t approve of we had a conversation about making smart choices and doing the right thing and she looked at me said “YOLO, mom, YOLO.”

I suppose the good thing is that I already knew what YOLO was, but only because I googled it a few months ago when I read that it was one of the words that the Oxford Dictionary considered for Word of the Year (spoiler alert: YOLO lost. To the uninitiated, and those over 30, YOLO stands for You Only Live Once, and I’m assuming the implication is that you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to do any dumb thing that comes into your mind because you don’t want to be on your death bed thinking about all the fun you missed out on one evening when all your friends were posting ridiculous videos on YouTube and you were just sitting there doing your homework like some kind of a student or something.

When my teen said “YOLO” to me, it took me aback. Because as a concept, it’s hard to argue with. I mean, yes, I do believe that you only live once, but I’m afraid that at the ripe age of 45 that has a different kind of warning for me than when I was a teen. It means that I want to live responsibly, and helpfully. I want to be safe.  I want to avoid unnecessary risks.  For teenagers, it means seize the day. Make it your own. Do what you want, chase the fun. And to me, as a parent, that’s terrifying. Oh, it’s terrifying without the YOLO, but when you throw that warning into the mix, that <i>it’s now or never</i>, it’s chilling.

I survived my daughter’s first YOLO at me. And I’m ok. Mostly.

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