If I ever question what resolutions I should make for the coming year, I need only ask my kids. They are full of ideas for how I can improve myself.
And while the list may be long, it is summed up simply—quit embarrassing me.
It’s an act swapped by generations. I remember being embarrassed by my mother. She loved to test a building’s acoustics by singing selections from The Sound of Music score. She made me wear overshoes (aka, rubbers!) when it rained. And she had rules. Embarrassing rules.
I have never sung a solo in public—in any setting. And I have very fair and reasonable rules. So I had no idea how I could be embarrassing to my kids.
But I am. So embarrassing. Says the child who managed to get his head stuck in a chair at a restaurant. And managed to break free just before the fire department arrived. Of course.
From day one, I worked very hard to help them not be an embarrassment to me (or themselves). After all, most of parenting involves guiding children through the process of becoming a better human being. Following the social norms that help us blend in. Which is why I find it ironic, after years of teaching them how to behave like socially acceptable creatures, they turned on me.
And really, there is no point in debating the issues. Parents don’t ever get it right. We show up too early, or too late. We wear Mom jeans; or the same jeans our kids wear. We are overly interested in their lives…but then we don’t know the obvious.
So yes, maybe one time I fell asleep in Hollister while one of my children was shopping.
Payback for when she wouldn’t fall asleep. Or the time she led an entire section of a restaurant in singing a Christmas carol.
My boys look with disdain at photos of themselves in their younger years, dressed stylishly (so I thought) in coordinating outfits, featuring button-down shirts and ties. “How could you?” they ask.
“How could you relieve yourself at the end of our driveway, in plain sight of the neighbors and passing traffic?” I reply.
I like to think maybe I’ve earned the right to embarrass my kids. After all, I dragged three children with me most everywhere I went until they started school. I was the Mother whom the store clerk asked, “Is that your child?” pointing to the frantically waving, obviously stuck child hanging out of the van window. Yes, I had locked them safely —so I thought—in the car. And yes, that child had decided his brother’s behavior was an emergency and needed to be reported immediately.
So much for a quick run into the store for some milk.
The potential for embarrassment has grown exponentially in every direction with social media. I use caution in posting a throwback Thursday photo. Who knows what snarky comment may appear on Twitter.
This is the stuff that binds families. We all know the craziest stuff about each other. And we have to trust each other with that information. And sometimes we have to be there when the crazy slips out for public display.
The truth is, no matter how many times my kids have embarrassed me, they’ve made me proud even more times.
I’m pretty sure they will say the same about me, someday. As long as I keep a few resolutions.