*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
From the time we were children, and I have known my friend Thea for more than half of my life, she has had a volatile relationship with her parents. This is in part I think because her parents had Thea when they were children themselves, only sixteen and still in high school, and didn’t really know what they were doing with her.
When Thea was a child she had memories of being locked out of her parent’s bedroom when she wanted comfort at night, pot smoke wafting out from below their bedroom door. Her parents never let her sign up for extracurricular activities because they didn’t want to pay for them or shuffle her around to them. They never let her have sleepovers at her own house because they didn’t want other people seeing how they lived.
Thea spent an awful lot of time at my house when we were growing up, just doing whatever she could to spend as much time away from her own house as possible. I couldn’t blame her. I would want to be away from those parents if they were mine, too, but I got lucky.
As we got older, the relationship with my own mother changed and got better with my age and maturity, I thought Thea’s relationship with her parents would get better for the same reason. They were all getting older and more mature, or so you would think.
When Thea was thirty-two she got pregnant and this news was a joy to Thea’s mom, which was a surprise to all of us. Why would Thea’s mom be so excited about being a grandmother when she didn’t even seem to want to be a mother to Thea when she was little?
Nevertheless, her grandmotherly excitement somehow warmed Thea’s heart enough to let her mother back into her life in a big way. She started spending more time with her mom, trusting her mom, and caring for her mom in a way she never had before.
When it was time for her first ultrasound, Thea wanted her mom to be there with her - she just had one request. Thea did not want to know the gender of her baby, she wanted it to be a surprise when the baby was born, but Thea’s mom argued that she should find out.
“No, Mom, I don’t want to know,” Thea kept insisting, and she made sure the nurse and doctors knew to keep the gender a secret.
But this wouldn’t stop Thea’s mom.
After the ultrasound was over, Thea’s mom went up to the nurse in the hallway and bribed her with fifty dollars to tell her the gender of the baby.
She ran out into the office, overjoyed and shouting and pointing to Thea: “She has my granddaughter in there! She has my granddaughter in there!”
Thea was furious and demanded to know how her mother had found out the gender. Being immature, Thea’s mom wouldn’t admit to it, and the poor nurse finally broke down and handed Thea a fifty dollar bill, crying how sorry she was.
The nurse was immediately terminated from her job, and Thea yelled some things about suing her for the egregious violation of her medical privacy. She didn’t sue, but I don’t know, I might have.
What would you have done in Thea’s position?