When I was growing up, I remember thinking that my parents were relatively cool. Reality, however, came crashing down around me at the age of 12 in a manner so scarring I still have nightmares about it. It was at my 6th grade basketball game. The lack of halftime show inspired my dad to show a side of himself I didn’t know existed. He strode down the bleachers and proceeded to lead the crowd in a cheer. He and another dad spent the next three minutes (or what seemed like 10 years!) chanting “Be Aggressive,” complete with attempted-cartwheels and exaggerated hand
gestures—I. Was. Mortified. It was at that moment I realized just how much power a parent truly holds.
They have complete control over you because as a pre-teen, you’ll do just about anything to avoid embarrassment in front of your friends. At the mall, my dad would threaten to hike his pants up above his belly button, grab our hands, and start skipping if we stepped out of line. That was a fate worse than death. But how great for him! He didn’t have to yell and get angry. He got his desired results and enjoyed every minute of it. I swore that when I had kids I was going to do the same thing. And now it’s my turn.
Ok, so I don’t think my kids are old enough to understand the embarrassment factor, but I can plan ahead, right? What I didn’t anticipate, however, was that kids could humiliate their parents just as badly, if not worse. That precious “innocence” people so often talk about when referring to children is just a way to sugarcoat the fact that kids have no filter and say whatever comes to their precious little minds. I almost choked the other day when some nice lady knelt down to talk with Michael at the grocery and he kept poking her face yelling, “Ouchies!” He was referring to her acne. What do you say to that? Hey! Maybe he’ll be a dermatologist!? What makes these unrestrained outbursts even worse is that young kids have one volume. I BET YOU CAN GUESS WHAT THAT IS! So when Charlotte so delicately screamed, “Woah! Did you see that big lady in the green shirt?” in regards to the corpulent MAN who just passed us, you can be sure it was heard by everyone within a 100-yard radius, including Mr. Ponytail.
When these comments are directed towards other people, many times you can apologize your way out of it with a kids-will-be-kids kind of mentality. But occasionally these little angels target you, and there’s nowhere to hide. We were at the McDonald’s playplace and Charlotte ran off without finishing her meal. At the top of the tallest slide she starts screaming, “Mommy!” Of course, in a place like that, when you hear the word “Mommy,” everyone stops what they’re doing to see if it’s their kid in need. So, now it’s dead-quiet and Charlotte continues. “Please, Mommy. Don’t eat all of my food!” Everyone starts looking around to see what horrible mother would do such a thing. I started looking around too. No way was I owning up to that one!
So for now, I’ll continue paying my dues. But they better enjoy this while it lasts, because once they’re old enough, I’ll be leading the cheers, skipping through malls, and being the embarrassing mom I’ve always dreamed of!