A Middle Aged Woman Laughs at Life’s Learning Curves
By:  Mary Fran Bontempo

The joy of motherhood brings with it many gifts—an incredible love, an oddly fulfilling sense of self-sacrifice, fierce determination to protect one’s child—just to name a few.

I’ve learned all of these things from my children, and felt enriched for the lessons my offspring have taught me.

But a few weeks ago, my daughter instructed me in lessons previously unknown to me even after twenty-five years as a mother. On an evening out, my daughter taught me how to play her favorite Goldfish Game slot machine in Atlantic City and also how to order a drink from a waitress walking the casino floor.

Yes, you read that correctly. My daughter, the beautiful little girl I held in my arms and rocked to sleep, drove me to an Atlantic City casino and showed me how to gamble on the penny slots. And how to obtain some liquid refreshment to further enhance the experience.

I’m still a little stunned. Of all the things I expected to learn from my kids, these were not on the list. New songs from kindergarten, new dance steps, how to program the DVD player, sure. Naturally, I expected the roster of things they knew and I didn’t to change as they grew older, but I’m not so sure I’m ready for my latest forays into uncharted territory.

In my mind, as in the minds of every mother on the planet, my kids are still babies; I occasionally find myself checking the clock to see if it’s nap time. (Okay, now the nap is for me, but you get the point.) Even though I was vaguely aware that the passing of time would allow my children to leap frog ahead of me in some areas, the fact that the current learning curve requires my daughter to be of legal age has me scratching my head. Exactly when did this happen?

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, my daughter doesn’t make a habit of gambling, drinking or frequenting Atlantic City. (At least I don’t think she does; she’s still refusing to be micro-chipped. I’m thinking of hiring a detective….) But like most twenty-somethings, she and her friends socialize at clubs and restaurants and they know about this stuff.

Every kid looks forward to the coming of age things. We did too. And we navigated it with a few bumps, but came out relatively unscathed. However, now it’s my babies who are doing the stuff we did, or in my case, doing the stuff I never did—until now, when my daughter is around to teach me.

She wants to teach me other things as well, things like how to use current lingo without sounding like a dolt (hopeless—I’ll never get it), how to drive (apparently, the fact that I taught her is now moot) and how to dress (the practicum on undergarments will never be enacted—EVER).

I admit that being the student when I’ve been the teacher for over twenty years is humbling and not a little disconcerting. The whole experience makes me feel off-balance, like I have an inner ear infection. But maybe it’s time. My kids are adults, like it or not. Truthfully, I’m lucky that they want to spend time with me, even if I have become a source of personal amusement for them.

Nonetheless, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hearing my daughter order a beer, let alone extol the virtues of her favorite slot machine. But there was an upside to the evening: I won forty-five dollars. She lost thirty.

Maybe that learning curve isn’t so steep after all.

Have your kids “taught” you anything new?  Tell us about it!  Click “comments” below, in red.