It's a rite of passage that all children must go through, the "embarrassing parent" moments. You know, the comments meant to expose you and embarrass you in front of God and everyone, such as “I’ll miss you!” or “Mommy loves you!” and the ever popular “Make good choices!” I lived through it and now laugh about it and sometimes it winds up in a skit…or a blog post.
But as my sweet, southern mother would say after I whined about my Dad sending my boyfriend a tape of me singing, "God is building character in your life". And I fell for it.
Well, now it's my turn. The torch has been passed. The student becomes the master. But in order to fly the flag of Embarrassing Parent one must acquire a child who will succumb to the humiliation of being in such a family. A child who will cower in fear and submit to a higher power that has the ability to take you out of this world and make another one just like you.
We have two children in which to inflict such pain and humiliation upon. But only one can be swayed by threats of hugging in front of his friends or blowing kisses while he's on the soccer field.
No...the other, the older, the wiser, the unaffected...will not be moved. In fact, she welcomes it. "Bring it on!" is her motto. "Do your worst!" She is unafraid. She will gladly wave and blow kisses to "mommy" and respond with "you're the coolest" to my "make good choices" battle cry when dropping her off at school. She proudly exits the car at school when my hair is unkempt and I’m still in the t-shirt I wore to bed. Don’t dare her to do stuff. She will wind up in jail. She is a rock. Non-embarrassable. Non-self-conscious.
After dropping off my beautiful, talented, well-liked daughter at school I noticed something a little off about the jeans she was wearing. Now, Rachel has had a problem with this since...well...birth. For Graham, it's keeping his shoes tied. For Rachel, it's been this particular oversight that she's never been mindful of or cared about until someone pointed it out, and with a shrug of her shoulders and an "oh thanks" she would fix the problem and carry on with her life. No big deal.
I have searched far and wide for the chink in Rachel's armor. Her Achilles heel. And today I found it. And now that she's in middle school this particular thing holds new meaning, unbeknownst to me. So with love in my heart and nothing but the best of intentions, as Rachel waved goodbye and we exchanged "I love you's", I rolled the window down and declared:
"Honey, zip your pants!"
The next few seconds happened in slow motion. The freezing in mid-stride. The slowly turning around in utter mortification. The eyes as wide as saucers. I had done it. I had finally embarrassed my daughter
She took it all in stride and with good humor. I honestly didn’t mean to embarrass her. It was just a bonus to my Friday. She checked her zipper to make sure that they were, in fact, zipped and gave me a “Mooommm!!”
As parents, we don’t mean our children harm. But somewhere in the parent manual it says that you’re supposed to remind your children of their place in the world. It’s the same reason I read her emails and text messages. I want to know who she’s talking to and about what. She understands that she’s not entitled. There are things we must endure in life, and well-intentioned but oftentimes ego-busting parents are one of them.
I know that for myself, God laughs and says to the saints and angels around him “Hey, you wanna see something funny?” and then proceeds to put me in my place. Whether it be tripping while walking down the sidewalk, waving at a stranger I thought I knew, or asking that lady in Wal-Mart when she’s due…you get the rest of that story. It’s the natural order of things. It happens to all of us and will continue to happen for the rest of our lives. It’s just that the older you get, the less you care.
But I have to laugh, because it reminds me that I am not perfect. There will always be things out of my control. I am human and God is God. And that is such a good thing.
Originally posted May 2010.