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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saving the Parental Face

The other night we had gone out to eat when I decided to tell our son a story how I had caught a napkin on fire at the very restaurant where were dining. The story included how I had shouted "Fire! Fire!" just before my hubby quickly doused the tiny blaze with some water. As my son rolled his eyes upon hearing the anecdote, I could see him imagining the embarrassment his mother would have brought upon him if he would've been there to witness the event. While I have sort of gotten used to embarrassing my spouse every once in awhile, I never thought I'd be the parent my kids would be embarrassed of. I am. I am that parent.

So the cool factor seems to officially beyond my scope. It's a bit humbling. Last week a few of us parents holed up at Troy's Bar & Grill after a Pee Wee's baseball game. At one point of the night a flood of twenty-somethings trotted in with their swanky clothes and fancy hair and cool shoes. I glanced down at my mom capris, burying even further into my smart hoodie. I knew it was time for us to duck out before we had a chance to appear as if we were trying to fit in. My sixteen-year-old didn't happen to be with us, but all I could think was how she'd be begging for us to leave to avoid a particular shame. But in reality? That crowd didn't even notice us–the people in our family-zone bracket. They seemed to look right over the tops of our wisps of gray and increasingly pronounced bags under our eyes. So unless we started downing shots with the youthful troupe, we stood a pretty good chance of being ignored and saving our kids from any possible humiliation. 

I confronted my daughter about the issue. Asked her straight out if her parents embarrassed her. She was gentle–even offering, "Not always." But here's the kicker. She told me candidly that it wasn't her father that embarrassed her. It was only me. 

"Me? Why?"

"Just different things. Like your big smile when you talk to little kids. Even Cole agrees it's kind of weird."

Well. That's just me being wistful about my kids not being little anymore. And apparently, for good reason. They get awfully judgmental once they reach a certain age...Awfully judgmental. I think I can promise my kids this...I will never intend to shame them. Never. But given the history of parental/child relationships, I'm bound to make their eyes roll just a few more hundred times in their lifetimes.

My kids never embarrass me. They are always lovely!

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