It wasn’t just that the voice was familiar to me, but the tone of the voice on the phone was also instantly and unpleasantly recognizable. I would know it anywhere.
It was, for those of you who’ve raised a family and know what I’m talking about, the annoying sound of an adult child ( or, to be more specific, a child who is almost an adult) letting me know that she wouldn’t be needing my advice at this particular moment.
I’ve heard that tone plenty of times.
“Mom, I’m 20 years old,” the disdainful voice on the phone said. “I know what I’m doing.”
Oh, really? Is that a fact.
I wanted to ask her if she had any idea how many times the words “I know what I’m doing” are served up with a really bad idea.
I don’t know for sure, but I imagine “I know what I’m doing” is exactly what runs through the minds of squirrels, deer, possums and skunks right before they cross a six-lane highway. At rush hour.
It seems to me George Armstrong Custer sent a similar message before riding over the hill and straight into a mighty big mess. So did Amelia Earhart as she cranked the propellers, climbed into the cockpit and flew right into an unsolved mystery. So did somebody at the White Star Line when the unsinkable Titanic rolled out of the shed and splashed into the sea. Just before it sank like a stone.
What do you want to bet that some unlucky stiff in Chernobyl said the same thing? “Of course, I hear the warning bells. Relax. I know what I’m doing!”
Want the perfect contemporary example of thinking you’re a whole lot smarter than you really are and getting us all in a lot of trouble because of it? Two words: British Petroleum. They told us they knew what they were doing, too.
I woke up the next morning with a headache, brought on, I’m sure, by grinding my teeth all night.
As a parent, nothing infuriates me more than having my offering of perfectly good advice and wisdom ignored.
She ought to listen to me so I can save us both a lot of headaches. I’ve been around. I’ve done a few things. I’ve made enough mistakes for the both of us.
I deserve a little respect. After all, for goodness sakes, I know what I’m doing.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org