Kitty Savage - A Savage Life

Recently, the Class of 1991 included me in a group message about an informal 30th-year high school reunion.

Our student body president is organizing an opportunity to visit and catch up with each other next month at a Holiday Open House. If we’re in town and not quarantined — last year a Savage made the quarantine list around every major holiday — then I’ll happily attend this little get-together. I remember high school fondly.

A few years ago, while she was in high school, our oldest daughter asked if I was popular when I was her age. After 25 years, I couldn’t remember.

I asked my high school friend. We agreed we weren’t in the hot and trending popularity circle, but rather somewhere on the outskirts, maybe best described as lukewarm popularity.

In contrast, I can confidently say, right now, in the Savage household, my popularity is running ice cold. I don’t need a BuzzFeed Quiz to realize I’m not as popular as I once was.

It’s a good thing there’s not a weekly straw poll measuring the approval rating of an exhausted and worried mother of Savages. My numbers are taking quite a hit amongst the 12-19-year-old subset.

At least I’m in good company. My husband’s numbers wouldn’t be much better.

As we both pointed out last week, our job isn’t to be the friends of Savages. Our job is to be the parents of Savages.

Those things aren’t necessarily synonymous with each other. Sometimes we’re going to make decisions and rules that aren’t popular.

As my husband noted, much to the chagrin of those attending his speech, Chez Savage isn’t a democracy. We are much more of a benevolent dictatorship.

Everyone in our home isn’t equal. Everyone doesn’t get a vote, especially those with a still-maturing pre-frontal cortex that does not allow for rational thinking, sound judgment and awareness of long-term consequences.

If our Savages are struggling to set their own limits, we will set limits for them. That limit setting has not made us popular.

I think back to when our children were infants, and we set limits to teach them to self-soothe and get enough rest. Those needs are still there.

I think back to when they were toddlers, and we set boundaries when they needed to take a break in the middle of a tantrum. Those needs are still there.

I think back to when our elementary school-aged Savages first crashed their bikes, and we wiped their tears and tried to fix their hurts. Those needs are still there.

Neurology tells us teenagers are still developing. They’re not adults, not even mini adults. They still need boundaries and limits. They still need parenting.

Right now, 30 years later, I’m not even lukewarm popular amongst some teens. Luckily, I have no interest in entering a popularity contest. You see, I’m not in this Savage life to be popular. I’m in it to be a parent.

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