Parenting Mistakes: A How-To Guide

Warning! Promise Me You Will Not Do This!

There will come a time in your parenting life when, I promise you, you will want to show your children that you, too, were once young.

This moment will come shortly after they have rolled their eyes when you try to make some comment about something they are about to do, or have done, that you, too, have done. They will look at you with pity and you will be overcome with the need to show them just how “cool” you once were.

It has happened to me and I do not want you ever to experience the utter humiliation I was forced to endure at the hands of my offspring.

See the pictures? Are they not just sweet? A showcase of young love heading off to the prom. Me, a ninth grader, going with the total coolest, best-looking guy in the senior class- the guy who was sooo cool he even started Earth Day at our high school. He was, to use an only slightly dated term, the total shit.
So I searched and finally found the old pictures and brought them to the dinner table one night. I am ashamed to have to tell you this, but if I can spare one human being the embarrassment and pain, well, it’s worth it.

“See?” I said proudly, spreading the pictures out across the table. “I went to the prom…and with the most handsome boy in the senior class!”

Kiss of freaking death.

“What kind of car is that?” The Younger Unnamed One asks.

“A Corvair. Martin called it Frodo and it had a guest book you signed…”

“Frodo!” They snicker, completely forgetting how into the Lord of the Rings they were only two years ago.

“What is that guy wearing? A white tux jacket? He looks like a band leader or something!”

“Hey, that white jacket was very cool,” I protest but they have moved on.

“Hey, hey look at this!” The Older Unnamed One cries. “Look! The guy is like smiling the same exact smile in every picture! His face like never moves! Dude, that is strange!”

I grab a picture, examine it and then pull a second one over, and a third. How did I never notice this?

My sons are rolling around on the floor now, sobbing they’re laughing so hard. “Look, look, look!” They scream, over and over. “The loser isn’t even real! Mom, what were you thinking?! He’s an alien!!”

I was thinking I was cool back then, back in “The Day.” I was thinking we could connect and relate on an intergenerational level. I was thinking I had been dating the hippest, coolest guy in the school. That’s what I was thinking…But never mind…

I gather up my pictures, take another peek at the smile that is the same in every, single picture, the expression that is always the same from frame to frame to frame and think why didn’t I ever notice this?

Later I stand in front of the mirror and smile at myself. I walk away, come back and grin again. I do this several times thinking, it’s my smile. Don’t you always smile the same way? Yes, by now alcohol is involved…but not enough to make me feel young and cool again.

I study the pictures and see that while my smile is the same, the rest of my face moves…my eyebrows lift, I stick out my tongue, I appear to be embarrassed…but his face does not change.

I go up into the attic later and pull out huge tubs of photographs- the ones I promised I’d put into albums before I forgot which baby is which and when each shot was taken. I search and search for signs of my former “coolness,” and realize most of my “cool” moments were not witnessed by a camera for very good reason…but of course, I can never tell Them that…

So I am un-cool and I must accept my role. After all, what teenager wants to compete with his mom for the title of coolest? (I know, it’s called something else by now, but you know what I mean!)

The worst part of this is…I don’t stop showing them pictures. I have enough photographs to entertain them every night at dinnertime for months, but I don’t do this. Instead, I wait until they bring girls over and then I whip out a few treasured pictures from Their childhood.

It is a low blow, I know, but in the jungle that is parenting there are no rules, only survivors.


marc said...

You can hand over all the evidence you have that you were once just as they were....It won't change a thing!
They have reched "that age"...The age where they feel have enough wisdom to make their own decisions,a taste for maturity, a passion for self expression, a desire to make their mark and worst of all...they know they have more than enough time on their side! These awakening energies have them claim.."I am in charge here, don't tell me what to do with MY life".
..Rest assured, in 20 years they will be sitting at a dining room table with a shoebox of photos, repeating your very words.."this was me on Prom night"

Great Entry....Resplendant with a parents love and a mothers wit!

Peace~~ Marc: grofsand@aol.com

Kim said...


You're learnin' sistah...

When my kids bring their loves over, I pull out videos. Yep, I have them on VHS video in all thier glory doing karaoke, dancing, playing with dolls, fighting, sleeping, picking thier noses... It's a God send.

NEVER mess with mom.

Latte' Dah said...

ROFLMAO. I can relate to this. When they Laugh Out Loud it makes me realize that they see me as a totally different person than I thought I was (?) We definately have a thankless job.