Let me count the ways…
I’ve made it my life’s work to embarrass my children any time the opportunity presents itself, as is my right as a parent. The job is quite fulfilling. It keeps them on their toes, because they’ll never know when one of my maniacal mom moments will present itself, and I like to keep them guessing.
After a total of 41 hours of grunting, sweating labor, 8,760 dirty diapers, and having to walk out of a restaurant, miss part of a movie, or cut a trip to the grocery store short 324 times due to screeching temper tantrums (those still happen even now in the teen years), I figure I’m entitled to some sort of emotional compensation. The thrill of watching them squirm for a change pretty much covers that cost. One might argue that parenthood itself is its own reward. I’ll agree, of course. I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world, but the added bonus of having the ability to turn their faces 50 shades of red at any given moment is quite lovely.
This venture has gotten even more joyous as they’ve gotten older, considering the fact that just having the parental units in close proximity or, Heaven forbid, addressing them with real live words in a public setting is borderline traumatizing to your average teenager.
You, too, have the power to be a general nuisance in the eyes of your overly dramatic offspring. It’s quite simple, and can provide hours of free entertainment. You’ll also have a few fun stories to file away for your grandchildren someday.
Here I offer up several teen stressing recipes, some of which I’ve already tried, and with great success. They all require one teenager (or more for flavor) a dash of drama, a spoonful of sass, and an eye roll or 2. The ones that I haven’t attempted yet are on my bucket list, of course. They’ll happen eventually, all in good time.
1. When you’re out with your teenager and spouse at a crowded restaurant, point to something on your spouse’s plate and say, “Hey, can I have a bite of that?” Then, as your spouse makes a motion to shovel the bite of food into your mouth, bounce up and down in your seat a little and exclaim very loudly, “Ooo! Ooo! Do the airplane!” Watch teenager’s eyes widen in horror as your spouse makes buzzing noises and twirls the bite of food into your gaping maw.
2. Take your teenager with you into a public restroom to use the facilities. After spending a quiet moment or 2 sitting alone in a stall reflecting the meaning of life or reading about who’s vowed to love whom forever written on the stall door, stand up and excitedly say, “Hey, you’ve gotta see this one! It looks like a weiner dog!” Listen as the footfalls scramble to make their way out of the restroom with Cheetah-like swiftness.
3. Wear very colorful socks with flip flops in public. Your teenager, especially the female budding fashionista types like mine, will make it a point to walk at least 5 paces ahead of you in an effort to make it look like you couldn’t possibly be together. Who’s the crazy person behind me? I have no idea. I’ll just shrug, screw my face into a highly disgusted expression, and pretend I don’t know why they’re addressing me as “honey”.
4. While out driving around with your teenager, don some cheap aviator sunglasses and a backward baseball cap. Roll down the windows in the minivan, and blast the latest Justin Bieber song as loudly as possible without blowing out the speaker system. When you’re stopped at a red light, slowly turn to the vehicle next to you, stick your arm out the window and with a completely serious face, whip them a peace sign with your left hand. Look puzzled as mortified teenager hunkers down in the passenger seat in an effort to disappear.
5. Take your teenager grocery shopping, and kindly request that they push the cart for you. Now, if you’re feeling particularly daring and energetic, climb into the main basket, or, if you’re just not feeling athletic enough to attempt such a feat, simply hop up onto the end of the cart and excitedly request, “Push me! Push me!” with a large cheeky grin on your face. Sadly wave good-bye as exasperated teen flees for the electronics section.
6. While also out grocery shopping with your teenager, as you’re in the check-out lane loading your mac and cheese, ramen, and hot dogs (5 kids, remember?) onto the conveyor belt, burst into a stirring (and loud enough for people 3 or 4 lanes over to hear) rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Look around you at the other people in the lane and urge, “Everybody now!” Once impromptu sing along is finished, ask for assistance scraping flattened teenager up off the floor because they’ve dropped dead from embarrassment.
7. Arrive an hour earlier than the originally agreed upon time to pick up your teenager from the mall. Locate teenager amidst the gaggle of verbally challenged, hygienically questionable, sagging pantsed youth. (Head for Hot Topic, you’ll likely find them there.) Approach teenager and loudly proclaim, “I thought I should take you home early. If you keep skipping your antibiotics, that THING will never go away.” Watch as teenager tries to save face by pretending that you don’t exist. Notice remaining youth trying to puzzle out the meaning of ‘antibiotics.’ Such a big word…
8. Bring your teenager along on one of your frequent pain reliever runs to the local pharmacy. Hey, the fact that you even have a teenager means that you go often for those economy sized bottles of Tylenol and you know it. While there, look for an employee, preferably a youthful one not much older than the teenager in tow. Drag and position said employee in front of the gleaming wall of adult diapers. Point at the packages of spongy undergarments and very loudly ask, “Do these come in super absorbency? I tend to sneeze ALOT.” After the youthful lad points out what you’re looking for while stifling a chuckle, apologize for needing the assistance because, well…”with age, your eyesight just isn’t what it used to be.” Locate agitated teenager that managed to scoot a distance of 5 isles over within 2 tenths of a second and is currently trying to act nonchalant while thumbing through a magazine.
9. While your teenager has a friend over, enter their room with panic in your voice, and exclaim, “I think I just found a grey nose hair!” Then tilt your head slightly back, flare your nostrils, point to your nose, and say, “Look! It’s right there! Can you see it?! Tell me if you think that’s grey.” Listen to teenager heave an irritated sigh and try to calmly explain to their friend that they are actually adopted, and that their birth parents are really wealthy movie stars that will return to claim them some day.
10. Take your teenager to Wal Mart in the middle of the afternoon wearing pajamas, slippers, curlers, and some type of beauty facial mask. While you will likely blend in with the rest of the Walmartian community, your teenager still won’t want to be seen with you. Then again, you could dress in your Sunday best, and they still won’t want to be seen with you…
I hope that this study guide helps get you started on the road to A+ embarrassment. Feel free to grace me with your own personal stories of creative situations in which you’ve made your teenager want to slink away and bury their head in shame. You know, like… speaking to them out loud instead of attempting to communicate telepathically…or …blinking…breathing… existing…
Until next time, readers… stay dramatic.