Being a parent can be really embarrassing. I’m not saying that our kids are embarrassing or that we should be embarrassed by them – not at all, they’re going through their process and even their most cringe-worthy and public gaffes are really just understandable parts of growing up. I’m talking about the humiliating things we do as parents, those actions and statements that make us feel like buffoons, either immediately or upon later reflection. For example:
The Third Person Problem: When your children are young, it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to yourself as Mommy within the confines of your own home, or at least during a conversation with your child. It’s regrettable, though, when you accidentally do so while speaking to friends when your children aren’t around. Along these same lines, even though you might call your husband Daddy 70% of the time now, you need to make a concerted effort to remember and even use his real name.
Slippers to School: It’s understandable if you forget to change out of your slippers and into your shoes when rushing out the door to school. Of course, this is probably because you’re distracted by 1,000 other morning tasks, including convincing your child to put on his own shoes. It’s not a huge deal if you don’t have to get out of your car for drop-off, but if you’re still in that stage of taking your child inside the building you’ll wish you had chosen a more subdued style back when you purchased your slippers last year. Or just that other parents also have a quirky soft spot for sharks.
Bouncy Castle Debacle: When you become a parent, you quickly learn that bouncy castles are about as unavoidable as goldfish crackers. Your child will likely squeal with delight when he or she sees one. On the flip side, they may freak out once surrounded by the flailing limbs of older and more experienced “bouncers.” If this happens, you might make the ill-advised decision to cross the bouncy castle threshold to make a rescue. What will ensue will be quite the opposite: a terrifying dance (for you and your audience), highlighting your inflexibility and your lack of coordination. Furthermore, if you have on slippery socks, there’s a 98% chance you will throw out your back. Next time, you’re better off standing staunchly at the side and luring your child in with your calming voice. Or, use a fishing pole if you have to!
Frosting Fiasco: Of course you should decline that piece of cake at a child’s birthday party for many reasons. But “What the heck!” you think, “I deserve some fun too!” The icing is either blue or green or red – any color but white. You don’t have a mirror on you, and you wouldn’t think to look in it anyway, since you’re busy chit-chatting with new parent-friends. If you did, you’d see a colorful set of teeth and lips exactly as horrifying as the kid’s. The only difference is that they manage to make it seem cute.
Too Many Tears of Joy: It makes sense to cry happy tears at your tyke’s little graduation ceremony or fill-in-the-blank performance. The tricky, more embarrassing thing is when your ducts are triggered by mundane, everyday occurrences, like singing your favorite song at a toddler music class. (For example, “You Are My Sunshine” gets me every time.) Or when your kid shares his toy without your “encouragement” (insistence). Or when he calls out that he loves you from across a crowded room. To be prepared for these kinds of situations, all you can do is carry around a pack of tissues and claim to have a year-round case of allergies.
This list could probably go on forever… so many things we wish we could undo. The beauty of parenthood, though, is that you get lots of opportunities to laugh. And often…at yourself.
Freelance writer and author Jocelyn Jane Cox reports on the Great State of Parenthood with advice you never knew you needed and the chuckles you know you really need every other week in the Chronicles of Parenting. Her 2012 humor book on life in the New York suburbs, The Homeowner’s Guide to Greatness: How to handle natural disasters, design dilemmas and various infestations, is available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JocelynJaneCox.