My kids have been embarrassing me for years. Usually, this is exacerbated by the fact that every mortifying thing they do also includes the quick proliferation of bacteria into their own or someone else's body.
The following isn't an uncommon sequence of events, which is typically carried out in public. First, the kid will scratch his butt (I'm only using the male pronoun because Jude's younger and I have a few extra years before he realizes I've made this information public knowledge. Darla is equally guilty of this behavior). Next, the kid will rub his eyes with the hands he scratched his butt with. Then, he picks his nose. Then, he'll stick this hand in a newborn baby's mouth while simultaneously sneezing in her face. Then, he'll walk over to a garbage can and lick it. Then, we'll get on a plane and he will fart the entire way from the west coast to the east coast.
I'm not passively watching it all unfold throughout this entire process. I am actively stopping them every step of the way, but they persist. The desire to stick the debris from their butts into their eyes is far too great.
For the past six years, I took comfort in knowing that this was a one way street. I was agitated by their actions, but they thought everything I did was flawless. I could say any beastly thing or hug them in public and they were just fine with it. I thought I had until Junior High to relish not being the most embarrassing member of the family. This became a two way street far sooner than I had expected.
By the time Darla reached Kindergarten, she began having opinions about how I behaved in public. She walks to school fifteen paces a head of me. I'm not allowed to speak to her about anything or ask her how her day is going. Worst of all, I can't give her a hug good bye in front of her school. The good bye has to come two blocks earlier in the comfort of our home.
On my birthday this year, I was feeling bold. I was gonna get that public hug.
"Give me a hug," I said as we approached her class's line. "It's my birthday!"
She looked at me, scrunched up her nose, shook her head, wagged her finger at me, and ran towards her line. I crouched down low and chased after her (obviously, I was trying to be cute) to give her a hug. Then, I tripped over her foot, knocked her to the ground, and flew over her and onto the floor.
"I'm so sorry," I said. My heart was falling out of my chest as I pulled her up off the floor. She was fighting back tears. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
She wiped her eye and walked towards her line without looking at me.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I repeated as I backed out of the schoolyard. It was the worst birthday present I could've ever gotten.
Presently, Darla and I are embarrassing each other equally. She still scratches her butt in public and I still try to tell her I love her when I say good bye. As far as I can tell, however, the two way street starts slowly morphing back into a one way street over time. Unfortunately, it will never be in my favor, again. I'll continue to get more mortifying while Darla becomes increasingly cool. I think, as far as I can remember from my experience with my mom, the transition is completed by Freshman year of high school. That's when I will forever be banished to the land of the annoying. In the meantime, I may as well relish the last few years of feeling superior while I watch the nose picking.