There comes a time in all parents' life when they have to say "no" to their children. It is a terrible moment for a child because he or she suddenly realizes that the father and mother never loved them.
So it was with Colleen McCarty, a 16-year-old who discovered just when school was out for the summer what her parents really thought of her.
She said to her father, "May I have $50 to go to the Grateful Dead concert?"
To her amazement her father said, "No."
Colleen shrieked, "What do you mean 'no'?"
"I meant that you can't go because $50 is a lot of money and I could use it for something like a new battery."
"But everybody is going," Colleen protested.
"Who is everybody?"
"Sophie, Charley, Turtle and Big Mac, and Zonker and Rachel."
"That's not everybody," Mr. McCarty said, "That's the short list of people you hang out with at Roy Rogers."
Colleen couldn't believe her ears. "I'll die if I don't go to the concert."
Mr. McCarty said, "People have died from going to a rock concert, but no one ever died from not going."
The rejection could be seen all over Colleen's face. She said: "Is this the father who carried me on his back to Fourth of July parades? The one who tossed a baseball to me on the front lawn, the man who defended me when the principal said that I talked too much in school? How could he turn his back on me now when I need him the most? Why would any parent hold back a lousy 50 bucks at possibly the most important moment in a child's life?"
Colleen decided to have one more crack at it. "If I clean up my room and make my bed, could I have the money for the concert?"
Mr. McCarty asked, "If I say 'no,' will you hate me forever?"
Colleen replied, "I won't hate you but I'll never trust you to have my best interests at heart again."
At that moment Mrs. McCarty walked into the room.
Mr. McCarty said, "Colleen wants to annul our relationship because of irreconcilable differences."
"Give me one good reason why I can't go to the Grateful Dead concert, which happens to be the only important event of the year in this dumpy town?"
"Money doesn't grow on trees," her mother said.
Colleen screamed. "Why do you always say that when someone wants to go to a rock concert?"
Mrs. McCarty responded, "Why do you have to have a fit whenever we turn you down?"
"Because you don't understand me. You have no idea how important the Grateful Dead is in my life. You are the only parents who would ignore the emotional needs of their daughter to save a mere $50."
"Perhaps," said Mr. McCarty, "but some day when you're a mother your daughter will come to you with a request. She will ask for $1,500, which will probably be the equivalent of $50 today, to hear her favorite rock group, and you will make a similar decision."
"Never. I won't treat my child in such a way that she will be alienated from me for the rest of my life."
"You hate me, don't you?" Mr. McCarty yelled.
"Hate is too strong a word, Dad. At the same time, I am not going to ask you to walk me down the aisle when I get married."