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Bedtime Kiss This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

The squeak of the screen door opening and shutting was followed by the lethargic heavier inside door thwamping closed. These are the sounds of someone arriving home. The sounds that come before the “I'm home!” and “Hello?” The sounds that told me my parents were back from their late-night dinner party. I was already in bed, nestled down in my twin-sized bed draped in a queen-sized comforter. The rhythmic breathing of my Golden Retriever matched the faint music drifting from my abandoned headphones, the only sounds that filled my room.

I waited. I waited for my mother to come in and kiss me goodnight, for my father to say something goofy and give the dog a pat on the head. The familiar creaks of the floorboards grew louder as they walked down the hallway, nearing my room. My parents made no effort to stay quiet, casually talking to one another. As their footsteps grew closer, I quickly closed my eyes, pulled the covers up around my face, preparing for them to come in and perform the sweet routine of “bed time”. Then I heard the opening and closing of their bedroom door and their voices fade. No good night kiss, no goofy comment, and no “I love you”- just the sound of a girl growing up.

I cried that night. It was one of those drowning cries. It was the kind of cry when every bad thing that had ever happened to you comes flooding into your mind, overwhelming you. I don't know why it does but it makes you cry even harder. Your chest heaves and the drowning feeling surrounds you. The only cure is for a loved one to hold you and then hold you even tighter and then everything doesn't seem as bad as it originally was.

But I didn't want to seem like a baby, so I remained in the comfort of my bed. Growing up in a house with three older brothers I had developed the mentality of keeping crying to a minimum. Only ever allowing the tears to fall if they were truly required. I was also embarrassed. My fourteen-year-old self had reminded my loving parents countless times of how independent I could be. With a recently acquired job, activities that kept me at school till seven and the ability to cook uncomplicated meals; I felt like I was self-sufficient. So, instead of seeking the comfort of my parents, I laid in bed alone clutching a pillow to my chest whilst reminding myself this is what growing up is. Independence.

There is no definable moment in a person's life when they must grow up. We just grow. We grow until we feel we can't grow anymore and even then we keep on growing. We are the judges of our own adulthood because all it takes is for us to step up to the plate and start swinging. However, we don't go through this journey on our own. Multiple people join us on our ride whether it is for only a moment or for a lifetime. Though, the most important backseat drivers are our parents.

The story I am telling --of the tearful bedtime-- represents a miscommunication that forms between parents and children. It's not the parent's fault, nor is it the child's; it's just what happens in life. It usually occurs during the teenage years, which arguably a time when parents guidance is most needed. We become trapped; treated like children but expected to act like adults. We as teenagers strive for independence; everything we do is working towards the goal that soon we will be on our own. Yet, we are gently tugged back by our heartstrings, played by the love of a mother and the protection of a father. In subtle ways we show them how we aren't ready, how we have yet to finish growing, how we still want that bedtime kiss.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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