Child Parent by A. V., Old Orchard Beach, ME I’ve become a 17-year-old mother of two boys. I didn’t give birth to them or supply them with names yet now they’re mine, and I have no choice whether I want them or not. I worry when they cram their mouths with junk food. I gripe at them when they watch tasteless shows like Ricki Lake. I complain when they wrestle in the living room, pretending that they’re ninja warriors. I’ve become overly protective of my brothers, half in love, half in obligation. Being the oldest, I’ve been thrust into the spot of “authority figure with a teenage attitude.” I’ve lost my interest in causing trouble and experimenting with my own freedom. I’m the scowling older sister who yells and interferes when she has no such right. I can’t raise children. I don’t want that parental responsibility. I watch my actions, maintain maturity and stifle my urge to go crazy, hoping that my examples will be noticed. Jordan sees me as a bossy jerk. Joey sees me as entertainment when I tickle him in his armpits and spider walk him across the kitchen, but he can’t understand why I scowl at him when he’s watching Power Rangers at 6 a.m. He doesn’t know that I only want to keep his fragile brain from being scattered and distorted. I’m choking my brothers with an urgency to save them from being hurt. It is quite evident that I am not happy with their obnoxious actions, but in caring for them, I am anxious and nervous. Parenting is too intense for me. Saturday night “arrives.” Jordan is at the dance, Joey is in bed, Mom, reading in her room with the music up loud, tells me to go out and do something for awhile. I know where they are and feel no need to worry. I let myself break away, going out to a friend’s house for a little excitement. It’s 1: 30 and the party is breaking down. Everyone is slowly letting themselves slip into the dead unconsciousness following a rowdy night of brain-cell killing. I’m sitting there, ice-cold sober, wondering how they’re all feeling, thinking What am I doing here? I laugh at their silliness, slurred mumbling, and woozy cavorting. Now they’re filled with unnatural substances, falling asleep like logs on the carpet. They had fun. I can’t let go of my obligation. I like to come home and look Mom in the eye, knowing that she has nothing to hang over my head. My friends can’t gossip about my embarrassing displays at last week’s party because there weren’t any. I’m too responsible. I’m so moral that I’m probably abnormal. I know that there is nothing wrong with this seemingly unprecedented behavior, but … balance, damnit! I feel like a moron, purposely scheduling screw-off time. Doesn’t that happen naturally? This sudden change from teenager to adult has put me in turmoil. With Dad gone, the man of the house is missing. The father figure, husband, and security is gone. Now Mom and I share the household responsibility, but at different levels. She has been where I’ve been. I’ve never been in her place to see life’s unfolding trials. I want to be a child. I want to experience these years with curiosity and hope. I’m too young to be a mom. I’m too old to be innocent. I can’t close my eyes to what lies ahead. I have emotionally adapted to life’s changes and I feel that I am stable enough to meet those tough challenges in these metamorphic years. I will not be shocked and disorientated when life throws me a curve ball. I feel that I am ready to overcome the harshness of growing up. The child parent within me is ready.