Glinda the Good or the Wicked Witch?

You know those theories you had about child-rearing when you didn’t have kids? And then the revised ones once you did?

Now we’re at that point where we’ve been proven right or wrong about more than a few of those theories—that point where we’re nearing the end of one kid’s adolescence and finding ourselves smack dab in the middle of another’s.

One of those theories was that honesty is the best policy, pretty much always.

Which meant a lot of repeating that we always wanted the truth; even if the kids thought they’d get in trouble, it would be worse if they lied. So we had to be honest because hypocrisy is the quickest path to a non-compliant kid and a dysfunctional family.

Not that there weren’t little white lies about outfits that made us blink, or how we might be spending a date night (because of the ick factor) and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

But in other ways, we were honest about our histories. This worked well for my wife, who has done nothing wrong in her life besides marrying me and owning a motorcycle. Oh, maybe she’s had a speeding ticket—the kids know that because they were in the car—and she may say a cuss word or two—ditto—but otherwise she’s Glinda the Good.

Which makes me the Wicked Witch of the West, if I’m honest. And I am, which makes for a lot of interesting dinner table conversations and adolescents virtually un-shock-able.

We’re talking sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, domestic violence, bad choices, alcoholism and idiocy. As age appropriateness allows. Boundaries are good (that value hasn’t changed a bit) and no one needs anatomical details, but I will answer a question when it comes up.

Like: What did you do when you graduated from high school? Drank so much tequila I threw up ten times on someone’s lawn. I wouldn’t recommend it.

When it comes to our peers, on the other hand, for years I felt like I was “the bad influence,” the one who “made mistakes” and still didn’t know how to “dress appropriately.”

Umm, yeah.

The thing is, I know those other moms. They aren’t Glinda any more than I’m the Wicked Witch. There were mistakes made, the bad company kept, substances abused and motorcycles driven despite ardent denials. None of them would ‘fess up while their kids were younger, so now they’re saints that no one could live up to, and I’m Sadie Thompson.*

And honesty is working out so far, though you’d never call our kids strictly mainstream. The kids with saints for parents are definitely aiming high and achieving lots. They’re awesome. We have a trio of artists, writers and maybe a mad scientist, so it’s all good. Totally love them. All of them survived unbelievably wholesome upbringings, whether spawned by saints or sinners.

They can grow up to be Glinda the Good or the Wicked Witch or something in between when it’s their turn to take chances, make mistakes and get messy. As for historical accuracy about their lives, they’ll have to work that out when they have kids of their own.

*Fictional prostitute Cher used to play in comedy skits on TV in the seventies. I loved that part of the show. And wanted to be Bernadette Peters. I was a weird kid.