“Lynn” is the mother of 3 young adults and a grandmother of 2. Her story could have happened to me or to you, or to one of millions of mothers across this great country.
“When my kids were young, we went to a small Baptist church about 10 miles from home. Sunday mornings, with 3 small children all under the age of 4, were hectic to say the least. No matter how early we got up, how much I did the night before to get ready, or how cooperative the kids tried to be; we were always running late. By the time we got into the van, tempers would be flaring adn at least one of the kids would be crying. My husband and I would usually be arguing before we had driven the distance to church.
Each week at the beginning of the worship services, our pastor would gather all the kids under the age of 8 to the front of the church. He would sit them down around him and begin asking questions about their week. He asked things such as how their week at school had gone, what they had for breakfast that morning or if they had gone to the football game the Friday night before. The questions varied from week to week; it was simply his way of getting conversation started. Then, he would use the answers to lead into the bible story that he had prepared for the children.
One Sunday, he asked this question to my then 3 year old son. “James, tell me son, just what is going on in the Smith house today?” To which my son answered. “Mommy and Daddy had a HUGE fight on the way to church this morning and Mommy said Daddy just sat on his butt and watched tv while she did all the work and then he yelled at her because she wasn’t ready to leave. And it was HIS fault that we were always late”
I wanted to crawl under the pew and die. My husband was 18 shades of red, and the laughter went on around us for what seemed like twenty minutes; although looking back, I’m sure it was more like 20 seconds. Our son thought they were laughing at him, and started to cry. Pastor finally regained control and went on with the service.
Little did I know that 15 years later, when he was a Senior in high school, that payback would be what nightmares are made of. The basketball team that James played for had qualified for a National Tournament that was to be held in Oklahoma. Several of the mother’s got together and decided that since our cheerleaders weren’t allowed at the tournament, that we would have to come up with something to encourage the teams. So we made t-shirts, each shirt with a letter that spelled out the team mascot. And during the first game of the tournament, 6 of us moms jumped out in front of the stands, got in order so our shirts spelled out the word “Flames” and began to lead the team’s signature cheer. “Red Hot”
Since nearly 6,000 kids from across the nation had gathered to play basketball, there were reporters, college recruiters and coaches and photographers in attendance at just about every game. One photographer shot a picture of the cheerleading mom’s and the next morning, we found ourselves on the front page of the sports section or the local newspaper with a caption that read…”Illinois Mom’s are Red Hot” My son spoke few words to me for 2 days. It didn’t help that everytime we entered an arena to play a game, be it the girls or boys team, the opposing parents would stand up and start clapping.”
When this assignment came up, I remembered hearing Lynn’s story and called her to get the scoop. I’m sure that I’ve been an embarrassement to my children, and Heaven knows they’ve made me want to dig a hole and let someone bury me. Even so, I didn’t expect the responses I got when I started asking questions of both teens and parents!! It seems that everyone was anxious to tell their stories of woe. As in Lynn’s case, names have been changed to protect the innocent, or in this case, the guilty~!
“Andrew” is 18 and is engaged to his girlfriend “Trisha”. During the Christmas holidays Andrew took Trisha to meet his extended family. He knew that there would probably be some ribbing from his aunts and uncles; and that his grandmother; who has dymentia and will say anything that comes to her mind; would more than likely cause some red faces. What he didn’t bargain for was his mother:
“My own flesh and blood turned on me!” he said. “She had come prepared with my baby album. Trisha’s barely even seen me without a shirt on, and here she was looking at my bare butt! She kept turning to me and saying ‘Aaww look how cute you were.’ I tell you, if I could get my hands on that book, I’d burn it.”
Andrew’s mother “Debi” tells a different side of the story. “I was only trying to make her feel welcomed into the family. After all, she’s going to be my daughter-in-law and the mother of my grandchildren.”
I asked Debi if Andrew had ever turned the tables on her. “Oh yeah!” she answered. She tells me the story of a school play when Andrew was in the 3rd grade. He sneezed while standing on the risers singing with the chorus. He covered his mouth and nose, but then looked down at his hands. “He was in the middle of all these other kids and nowhere to go. You can tell that he’s trying to figure out what to do with whatever he’s just blown out of his nose, and then he leans over and wipes it on the back of the boy in front of him.”
Andrew, at this point in the story, tries to defend himself. “It was my best friend, Greg. We wiped stuff on each other all the time, I didn’t think he’d care.”
Evidently Greg did care, because he turned around and slugged Andrew, right there on stage in front of dozens of people in the audience. Before long, Andrew and Greg were fighting, and teachers were rushing out of the backstage area to try and break them up, the play had stopped completely. The audience was in stitches, except for Andrew and Greg’s mothers, who were mortified.
“Hannah” is 16, and a Junior in high school. When I asked if her mother had ever done anything to embarass her, she replied “Which time do you want to know about?” It seems that Hannah’s mother doesn’t look 40 years old, even though Hannah says “Janice” dresses like she is. “She loves sweats and tennis shoes. That in itself is an embarrassment. But instead of making her look frumpy, she looks 16 years old! Especially when she puts her hair in a ponytail with one of my scrunchies!”
Janice doesn’t understand the problem. A petite blonde that stands just 5’0 admits she’s always looked young “I take Hannah and her friends to the mall, and everyone thinks I’m just one of the girls. It’s great for my self esteem, especially with the stigma of turning 40 this year. They make me feel so young!”
Hannah tries to explain. “Last week, some college guy asked me if she was my sister and did I think she’d go out with him. I told him NO! That’s my mom, and I didn’t think Dad would like it too much.” The boy walked away muttering under his breath something to the effect of “Why doesn’t MY mom look like that?”
But Janice has had her share of embarrassing moments where her daughter is concerned. She talks of a time when Hannah was about 7 years old. They were on vacation in California. Hannah and her 9 year old sister Hailey were swimming in the hotel pool. Hailey got out and came running over asking to go back to the room to use the bathroom. Janice handed her a towel, and told Hannah to get out of the water.
“I don’t want to.” Hannah whined. “Can’t I stay here? Those people can watch me!” she said talking about another family that was swimming
“No. Come on, we’ll be back in just a few minutes.” Janice told her. Reaching her hand down to help Hannah out of the pool.
“But I already went pee when I was sitting on the steps in the shallow end. When you were putting sunblock on my shoulders” Hannah yelled at the top of her lungs.
“At that very moment, I thought seriously about allowing myself to drown in that pool.” Janice said. “But I couldn’t bring myself to get in the water.” Everyone else was getting out as quickly as their legs would move them. The next day, we moved to another hotel so the girls would be able to swim for the rest of their vacation.”
I have 3 kids of my own. They’ve threatened to disown me if I used any stories of them in here. So let me just say this. Sometime in the near future, I’ll write an article about a certain little girl I had to go pick up from school in Kindergarten because she had filled her nose full of pebbles on the playground at recess.
Or perhaps it will be about that little girls’ older sister. There was a time when an uncle died and we were at my grandmother’s house, which was filled with people from my uncle’s workplace. I’d never met most of them. This little girl walked in and went immediately to the refrigerator. “Grandma!” She said. “I’m starving! I haven’t had anything to eat since the last time I was here.”
“Oh, do you get to come see Grandma every day?” asked one man.
“No sir” said the little girl, looking up at him with big blue eyes. “We haven’t been here in almost a month.”
But if not, then there’s always a certain college freshman that as a little boy announced to everyone within earshot at the restaurant; that he and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. When questioned further (he was only 4), he stated that Daddy had kissed Mommy and then they went to the hospital and brought home Lauren. “Asleigh kissed me on the sidewalk this morning. So now we have to go to the hospital and have our baby.”
But, perhaps I won’t tell those stories after all, because I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to embarass my children, now would I?