Every parent knows there are always things you can’t tell your children. Or at least, you shouldn’t.
You don’t want to manipulate their decisions any more than is absolutely necessary — which is often.
When they are small, it’s things that might frighten them, like vampires or the naughty words you will say after you just went to the market, then find your husband has finished the last of the milk without telling you. Or perhaps just how the neighbor’s nasty dog will come to be eating soft food for the rest of its days, if it gets out and makes a move in your direction.
Later it will be your true feelings about her junior high friends, what you really think about stretched earlobes as a fashion statement or how flattering that swell, 6-inch Mohawk hairdo is on him.
My current unshared feelings address my son’s choice of where to live.
He has decided to live close enough that I can “easily” visit, but just freeway-far enough away that I’d really rather not. My son and new bride went to some trouble to relocate to Southern California from the East Coast.
Everyone believes I am thrilled to have him so much closer. I dare not tell them that I preferred flying to Boston for a visit, rather than make the two-plus hour drive on the 405 to their current Santa Monica abode.
I will always love Boston. I will never love L.A.
I’d rather chew glass than make that drive, but feel equally miserable and guilty asking them to drive south.
I have made the drive, and will no doubt make it again, but it is not a great way to start a pleasant visit. My newest plan was to figure out how to get there by train. I scrutinized the routes and figured out a reasonably manageable itinerary I could manage. Then I realized it would cost me $60 round trip plus another $10 to $20 for a ride from Union Station to their apartment.
Yes, I could make them pick me up, but I hate asking anyone to suffer L.A. traffic. And yes, it is cheaper than a flight to Boston, but somehow it seems dreadfully expensive, for distance traveled. My perspective is warped by driving a Prius, which will get me there and back with a $25 tankful.
I suspect I will get over it eventually and just hit the road, as needed. I did it in the other direction for nine years, during my time-served in the San Fernando Valley.
But somehow, that stretch of the 405 between Long Beach and the 10, is like entering a time warp. I always begin to feel like I am in one of Dante’s rings of hell, doomed to drive for eternity, taunted by the wrong off-ramps.
I’m clearly a perfect candidate for the next self-driving car. I can always use a nap.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who wants someone to offer her a cold drink and snacks after about an hour of travel. Contact her a firstname.lastname@example.org.