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Open Thread: What Did Your Parents Not Let You Do When You Were a Kid That You Let Yourself Do Now That You’re In Charge?

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Parents do everything in their power to keep us safe and healthy and help us grow into happy, well-adjusted adults. I mean, intellectually I know that’s what they do, but to a young person it just seems like parents are these monumentally boring old people assigned by the Universe to keep us from having any fun. Stupid boring old parents with their rules that were obviously created for no reason other than because they wanted to keep us from doing fun stuff. (I am pretty sure my toddler thinks I am just telling her not to touch the stove because I am a power-mad jerk.)

There are lots of things our parents tell us not to do when we’re kids, and those rules make no damn sense. Then, as adults, we do them anyway, because we are adults and our parents can’t tell us what not to do. For example, I know a handful of very posh British gentlemen in their late 30s for whom the ultimate indulgence is a big bag of McDonald’s, because their posh British mothers wouldn’t allow them to have McDonald’s as children, so now it feels like forbidden decadence.

I was an extremely obedient child, and my big youthful rebellion did not happen until I was probably 32. All throughout my life, the big, irrational rule my parents had was that I was forbidden from petting stray cats. I wasn’t even allowed to pet the very friendly ones who obviously wanted to be petted, and was just cruel to me and to the cats. I love cats, and my mother’s forbidding of them just made me want to pet them more. It was torture.

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Then one day, when I was about 32, I was walking in the gardens of Versailles after dark. It was one of those, “I can’t believe this is my life!” moments, and I had been feeling pretty good about stuff lately. There was no one around, and a big, fluffy, marmalade-colored stray cat suddenly ran right over to me, meowing to be pet. He flopped in front of my feet, showed me his very fluffy belly, and purred.

“Oh man, I really want to pet that cat,” I thought. And at that moment, for the first time, I suddenly realized I was a grown-up.

“I am 32 years old!” I said to the cat. “My mother cannot tell me what to do anymore! I am going to pet this friendly Versailles cat!”

So I bent down and petted the hell out of that orange cat. He purred. I cooed. We were best friends. Afterwards, I felt like I’d reached some kind of life milestone. I did it! I was an adult, and I did not need my mother’s permission to pet a stray Versailles cat.

Then I got ringworm. Thanks, Versailles cat.

What’s something your parents never let you do as a kid?