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Small Talk: Mothering others mortifies my own

I’ve accepted the fact that it is my children’s job to embarrass me and mine to return the favor in spades.

These days, a day scarcely goes by without my teen and near-teen giving me the fraught-with-mortification cry of “Moooom!” The really funny thing is that it comes when I least expect it.

For the longest while, I thought my children might be bulletproof.  I satirize them almost weekly in front of hundreds of readers, after all.  But because I am just their ol’ mom, they choose to ignore it completely.

In addition, I have been goofy and overly friendly all their lives. They just laugh if I try to sing or dance. I have pushed them into the neighbor’s pool fully dressed, joined in food fights and dressed up in many a silly costume through their entire elementary school careers. Hence, they are not easily rattled by outrageous behavior.

What sends my kids into fits of embarrassment is when I try to be that village it takes to raise our children. I plead guilty to never missing an opportunity to coax or chastise a child I might encounter who is doing something dangerous, careless or just obnoxious. I expect others to do the same with mine when I’m not there to do it myself.

My kids want to blend into the sidewalk when I suggest a skateboarder go find his helmet. They want to divorce me and change their name when I roll down my car window and scowl at a child who has just shot out in front of my car on his/her bike.

It is more than they can bear if I insist a child say please or thank you, or lower his/her voice.  Heaven forfend that I ask a toddler to please sit back down in the shopping cart, as he is poised to cartwheel onto the tile floor. But I just can’t help myself.  I love them all and hence must mother them all.

The really funny part is that it is equally horrifying to my children whether the offending stranger hears me or not. They get every bit as upset if I simply comment behind closed car doors at some transgression I see. This is just too easy.

Although they are certain all this will vastly affect their lives and social standing, I expect it won’t and I won’t change. I am fighting the good fight and, more than that, since they hit the preteen stage, they have become singularly less entertaining. Making them cringe may be my only belly laugh of the day.

So put on those elbow and knee pads. Your mother didn’t buy them to decorate the skate park wall.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer still taking sticks and stones away from fifth graders on the playground. Contact her at [email protected].

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