I was at the park last week watching Youngest frolic, and couldn’t help but notice a mom chasing her son around.
He was about 8 or 9 years old, and she was probably early to mid-30s. She had been chasing him for about 30 seconds, when her daughter, probably age 11, yelled, “Mom. You shouldn’t be running. You just had a baby three months ago.” Then I had to laugh, because a loose translation of the girl’s admonition was, “Mom. Stop it. You are embarrassing me.” And oh, have I been on the receiving and giving end of maternal embarrassment.
My first recollection of being embarrassed by my mom wasn’t even her fault. When she came to school the first time, my friends all thought she was my grandma, because she was close to 40. Their moms were all in their late 20s. As soon as they tasted the treats she had made for the party, though, all was forgotten and mom had become one of the favorite mommies.
One time she really did embarrass me was in Murphy’s five and dime store at Lafayette Square Mall. I was probably about 10 at the time. Mom was in the market for a new bathroom plunger, and decided to try one out on the floor in Murphy’s. She stuck it to the floor just fine, but when she pulled to remove it, the stick came out of the rubber part. She started laughing, not quietly, and waving the stick around, talking about how she was glad it didn’t do that in a clogged toilet. I thought I would die from embarrassment.
Oddly, I never really was embarrassed by my mom when I was a teenager. I guess by that time, my friends all knew and loved her so it didn’t matter how odd she was.
Now that I am a mom, I have had many opportunities to embarrass my kids. Most of the time I try not to do it, but sometimes I cannot resist. When Middlest was in the first grade, one of her friends came over to our house to play after school. The child stared at me pretty much the whole time I was in the room with them. A few days later, Middlest worked up the courage to ask me if, in the future, I could try to behave normally in front of her friends. I informed her that I am what I am and she needed to deal with it. Turns out, the friend was actually afraid of me. Apparently, her mom was quiet.
When Eldest and Middlest started getting on the school bus, I would stand and wave good-bye to them as the bus left. By the time she was in second or third grade, Middlest had asked me to stop doing that. Eldest, however, never did. When she was in the seventh grade, I asked her if she wanted me to stop waving good-bye to the bus. She replied, “No. I just told the kids on the bus that you are a dork, and I can’t control you, so it is OK. Keep waving.” I am not sure it is possible to embarrass that girl.
As for Youngest, I am not entirely sure she can be embarrassed by her mom. I will keep trying, though. I just hope it doesn’t require running around a playground.
Amy Rodriguez is a writer living in Hendricks County. You can read more of her work at rubymay1029.blogspot.com.