I read an article this week about a man in American Fork, Utah who dressed up in a different costume every weekday and stood outside his house waving like a maniac. Sounds a bit embarrassing, doesn’t it?
Just picture if you were his teenage son, Rain Price, watching this unfold as your school bus drove by your family home. Every single day for the entire school year. Apparently, his father, Dale Price, enjoyed embarrassing Rain but said it was “a father’s way of saying I love you.” Once Rain got over what he described as “shock” at seeing his dad, he resigned himself to a long and embarrassing year on the bus.
Why do parents get a kick out of embarrassing their kids? Or is it just our way of having a little fun and telling our kids to lighten up?
In March, I found my birth mother and discovered I had a full brother, Donovan. When we met for the first time, Donovan brought an album of his childhood pictures to share with me. He asked to see my childhood pictures, also, and I asked my mother to make some copies of memorable baby and toddler pictures for our second meeting--whatever she thought he would enjoy seeing.
The next time Donovan and I met, I pulled out the envelope of pictures, which I hadn’t looked at yet, and started handing them to him one by one. I am glad I didn’t give him the whole envelope because nestled in the pile of photos was a shot of me at age two, naked and happily posing wearing my Dad’s brown leather boots. I laughed and declined to share that one; it definitely wasn’t a picture I wanted to share with my new-found brother.
Later when my mom called to ask how our evening went, she laughed and asked, “Did you show Donovan your pictures?” Ha, ha, Mom. It’s all in good fun, I know, but parents can be so embarrassing sometimes.
Just ask my daughter, Maggie, how uncool and embarrassing I am to her, especially now that she is the wise-old age of nine. Lately almost everything I do, no matter how innocent or well-meaning, is enough to cause her total social oblivion.
During the school year, I drive Maggie to school everyday and drop her off in the car line up. She always leans from the backseat and gives me a kiss good-bye and waves to me before she goes inside. That is, she used to, until this May. When I mentioned her hurry to get out of the car, Maggie admitted the whole kiss and wave thing had become “embarrassing” to her. Sigh.
Also embarrassing? Any nickname or pet name, like “Magster.” I am now only permitted to call her Maggie in public. Joking with the woman who served us custard at Strickland’s Frozen Custard is also out, not to mention singing in the car, in case someone we know spies us at a stoplight or driving down the road. At her dance recital this past weekend, I made the fatal mistake of saying, “I love you” to her in the dressing area. People were standing near us and Maggie looked like she wanted to sink into the floor.
The worst thing I could possibly do at this point is basically everything. Maggie seems to live in fear of the next ridiculous thing I might do to impact her perceived coolness.
It’s terrible to admit, but the more embarrassed Maggie becomes, the more a small part of me wants to push her buttons a bit; we all need to take ourselves a little less seriously. I won’t torture her, or at least I am trying to keep myself in check, because these are the days of her fragile tweenage ego. That said, I admit I have a stash of pictures I might break out someday to show her fiancé, and lots of stories committed to memory, also.
Poor Maggie, with the embarrassing, socially inept mother. I think I will show her the article about the Price family in Utah just to prove to her it could be worse. But, who knows, maybe that would be uncool, too?