I am the mother of a pre-teen. This means he is just old enough to be slightly horrified by me.
Recently in the mini-van, the kids and I were jammin’ to some tunz (that’s "jamming to some tunes", to you poor souls who do not have the street cred of this midwestern, 35-year-old housewife), and we came to a stoplight.
And I proceeded to do what is perfectly reasonable for a midwestern, 35-year-old housewife to do at a stoplight: The Robot.
My pre-teen son, who normally would have gleefully joined in with me, instead raised his hand to his face.
"Mom!" he said. "Don’t DO that!"
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because," he said, glancing around to see if any other motorists noticed. "A boy has needs."
And evidently one of those needs is for his mother not to do bad eighties dances in the car.
A new day is definitely dawning around here, as adolescence looms, and I’m trying to be sensitive. I remember being horrified by my own parents (who, it turns out, are perfectly lovely people and not at all horrific), and I told my son I understood. In fact, when his teacher invited me to his class recently to share photos of my Africa trip, I specifically asked him ahead of time: tell me how I can do this in a way that won’t embarrass you.
He did not hesitate. Evidently the ways I’m humiliating are right at the top of his head.
"Well," he said, "don’t sing opera." (If you spent any time in our house, you would know that this is a perfectly valid concern.)
"And don’t use the word totally," he said. I promised him I totally would not. He rolled his eyes.
"And," he said, pausing nervously, wondering if he was about to hurt my feelings, "just don’t try to be cool."
I assured him there was absolutely no danger this.
The talk to his class went fine. I shot him a couple of questioning "am-I-doing-okay?" glances, and he gave me reassuring nods. I think we’re going to be okay. I’ve promised him that Dad and I are sensitive to the fact that he’s not a little boy anymore, and I’m standing by my word, when we’re out in public.
But in the privacy of our home? Opera and bad dancing are the name of the game. And just before his eyes roll back in his head, I can detect a little twinkle.
Yes. We’re going to be okay.