Today was the World Beat Festival, in Salem. It is a wonderful celebration of world culture in the park, complete with music, dance performances, crafts and art to buy, and the yummy tastes of food from around the world. I was so excited! This was to be one of our great Summer Activities. You know. The activities I’ve been planning for my 8 year old to have the best summer ever? We had been to this festival a couple times in the years past. I wanted to make it a family tradition.
My kids have other ideas. This year, 2 girls were at church camp, the youngest thought it would be more fun to play with her friend, and my son wouldn’t get out of bed. In fact, the only kid that wanted to go with me was my married daughter. So much for family tradition.
Still, the three of us had a great time checking out world culture right in our own back yard.
I was contemplating why activity wasn’t turning out the way I had envisioned it as we were walking down the street, when my married daughter was suddenly embarrassed by something her dad did. (Honestly, he wasn’t that embarrassing. The poor guy just has to exist to embarrass the kids). Could this be the issue?
"Mom, he’s so embarrassing!" The eye rolls, the tone of voice...
“He’s not embarrassing. It’s just that you are normal and so is he. I can’t think of any kid that isn’t embarrassed by their dad. All of my siblings wouldn’t be caught dead with my parents in public. IN fact, one sister insisted on being dropped off for school a couple of blocks away… well, maybe she was embarrassed by the car we had to drive not the parents, but you get the point.”
I never thought I would really experience this phenomena. My children would be too sweet to go down that path, I thought. I would parent them better than that, I thought. The joke is on me, I guess, because just like most parents of teenagers before me -- just like my own parents! -- I and my husband are an embarrassment to the species known as the American adolescent (notice I didn't say "human") merely by the fact of our existence.
The good news is, they out grow it. My oldest used to avoid going on adventures with us in her teen years. Now that she is an “old married lady” of three months, she ready to hop in the car at a moment’s notice. I’m thinking they will all recover from this eventually… if they all survive the teens.
Seriously, it can happen anytime and anywhere -- out in public or at home or in the car, with other people around or not, and over just about any issue from the color of my t-shirt to the music on the radio. There is no rhyme or reason to the myriad of things that kids find embarrassing.
So now, when my kids declare, "Mom, you're so embarrassing!" or “Dad’s so embarrassing!” I will respond, "Thank you for the validation -- just doing my job."
But someday, they will look back at it and laugh and then thank us.