BIG post photo here, right? Well, you'd swear that's the size of the embarrassment I make my oldest son feel, just by my breathing and being generally alive.
My beautiful firstborn son, who long ago and in a galaxy far, far away, couldn't get enough of me to the point where my husband had to hold this little 3-month-old baby boy up so he could still see me every time I showered, this little baby of mine who I'd have to hold on my lap when I had to go to the bathroom because his world would fall apart if I was out of his sight ... this same little boy now D.I.E.S. that someone might realize that oh my gawd I am his mother. And how many teens actually DIE of embarrassment anyway? (well, yes, I know I did go out to get the newspaper in my nightgown and boots that one time, but it was only once).
The cause for this knife straight to my heart? Three words: He Is Sixteen.
Sixteen-years-old, when everything is about you. Everyone is talking about you. The whole world only notices you. It all has to do with you.
I am no physical monster. Last time I checked, there was no one-sided hump on my back, my eyes were evenly sized and equally spaced upon my face. As the joke goes, when I walk down the street, people do not hang out of their cars shouting, "Is it Halloween already?"
I have always taken care to not embarrass my children. BUT this? Embarrassing them by just being alive? What can I do with that?
There are so many new rules that are spit out by my son at school drop off time now that he is sixteen. Rules like bullets--they come at me, "don't say good-bye, don't say my name, don't wave, don't get out of the car, don't wait to see that I get in, don't shout at me if I forget something in the car, if I fall down flat on my face and my brains spill out, just.keep. going ..."
It's not like I break into self-choreographed interpretive dance moves upon hearing Adele's Rolling In The Deep -- no matter how much that women slays me -- when my son is with me. I save that for when I'm alone in the mini-van. I may think about swaying my hands all over my head like that, but I don't do it.
Not with him - I try not to think about how he once was my bald-headed dance partner in the kitchen, 3 a.m.
He makes me wince as I remember how much embarrassment I felt about my own mother as a teen. She had come another ther country. I was embarrassed, but there was reason for it, right? Or so I thought. I mean, she had an accent, and dressed funny, and acted like she wasn't even in America. She would try to imitate the movie stars of the time. I knew back then, as a teen, that any children of mine would never be self conscious that I was their mother! I had too much going for me -- I spoke perfect English, I didn't dress in the costume from the old country *blackdressblackdressblackdress,* and I never thought to try and imitate Elizabeth Taylor. What kid wouldn't be proud of me as their mama? I was cool, with it, American, and had no delusions of grandeur.
You can see how knocked off my feet I am by this new role in my life: that of social pariah of the village.
Our morning drives to school now go like this, my son reading to me from his How To Be Invisible Manual: "don't drive right up to the door, mom. Just slow down, and I'll get out and DO NOT say good- bye to me so loud the world hears it. You're so loud. I mean it. I MEAN IT."
To which I meekly ask, "c-c-c-an I look at you? for a minute? can I just l-l-l-l-ook at you? I promise not to make eye contact ..."
"No. See? SEE? This is what I mean. Just drop me off.
He might as well have said, "Go back to your door built into a tree house on the swamp, Fiona, go back from whence you came."
I do as he instructs and drop him off far enough from the school's front doors, per his request. I slowly creeper-drive away, sunglasses covering my eyes, so he can't see that I'm still watching him, watching my handsome, tall boy walk away from me ... without even one glance back in my direction.
He walks away, taking my heart along with him. I breathe deep, and pat myself on the back, congratulating myself on my verbal restraint. How badly I want to screech on the brakes -- good and loud, roll down the window and SHOUT, "embarrassing? you want to see embarrassing? How's this: "BYE HONEY I LOVE YOU AND DON'T FORGET TO WEAR YOUR CUP AT PRACTICE TODAY BECAUSE IT'S IMPORTANT TO PROTECT YOUR TESTICLES!"
You know, I think I might just call it his nutty buddy, for good measure.