The Summer I Wore a Dress: An Interview with My Parents
Based exclusively on what I've seen in public and my own spectacular imagination, I've gathered that having a child is the end of personal existence. Every selfish indulgence, every private ambition and every lazy afternoon of recreational sex is pinned down by biological imperative and strangled to death with an umbilical cord. Whatever part of the body Sense of Self used to inhabit is suddenly filled with only an intense urge to raise and protect an ill-designed hunk of flesh incapable of lifting its own spongy head. And even when it's old enough to walk or speak, there is still an 18-year investment of ensuring its hair is combed, its closet isn't filled with evil and that it learns to swim before falling in the family pool. Frankly, it sounds awful."Listen, you and I are going to play a game called 'Guess What I Just Swallowed.' Go." But most terrifying of all is that at one point or another, parents eventually have to let the child go. They have to back out of its bedroom while it cries, close the door and let it learn to deal with darkness on its own. There are just some lessons parents can't teach. Of course allowing kids to learn through trial and error means a few of them will break bones climbing trees and others will get Legos lodged in their ears and still others will go a completely different route by deciding it might be fun to cross-dress for a summer, like I did, when I was five. In an effort to understand how parents find the right balance between helping and staying hands-off, I recently spoke with my mom and dad about the month period in my childhood when I thought I might like wearing a dress. While I remember both of them being supportive at the time, as an adult I wanted to know what they genuinely thought about my decision. I can't say for certain that that point in my life taught me anything except maybe a healthy surrender to embarrassment, but I was far more curious to find out what my parents learned, or thought they were learning about me. Below is the full and completely real interview I conducted.