Just about every day, I make my way over to the high school to pick up my son. On cold or rainy days, he will wait inside, and I will call or text him to let him know I’m waiting outside. The other day, however, I left my phone at home, so I had to get out of the car and head into the school to collect him.
When he saw my face, he gave me a look of incomprehension followed by disgust.
“Why are you in my school?” he demanded.
“I couldn’t call you because I forgot my phone,” I explained.
“You should have turned around and gone to get it,” he said.
Seriously. He wasn’t kidding. There is nothing more embarrassing to a teenage boy than his mother. I had committed the unpardonable offense of being seen by people he knows.
I remember feeling the same way about my mother when I was younger. I would cringe at the movie theater when she sang along to the piped in music that played before the start of the feature. And once, she had the gall to go into the supermarket with her hair in curlers! I was mortified and insisted on remaining in the car.
What is it about parents that makes them so embarrassing? Is it the way we dress? My husband, for instance, has bright red sweatpants that our kids mock mercilessly. Or maybe it’s the way we try to be cool. ” ‘Sup?” I’ll text my son. “Never say that again” will be his reply.
What is certain, though, is that if I am out shopping with my daughter, she will walk several paces ahead of me if she sees anyone from school. I’m also not allowed to say anything to my kids’ friends in the car when I am driving carpool. I am James, the chauffeur, silent and deferential.
Most of the time I’m not bothered by the fact that my children are deeply ashamed of me. And while I don’t go out of my way to embarrass them, I try to be myself whether in public or private.
My husband, however, enjoys making our kids squirm. When they were in elementary school, he would make a point of walking them to the door on the first day. Once there, he would plant a big fat kiss right on their blushing cheeks for all to see.
I’m just hoping that once our kids are grown, they realize we were not all that embarrassing after all. By that time, with any luck, their own kids will be finding them hopelessly uncool!