The age of awareness is a terrible thing. Especially when you are Offspring #1 or 2 in the Clampett family and become aware that Spouse and I are your parents- forever. We were otherwise engaged- not to eachother- but with other fun and maybe diabolical activities while our counterparts were nest feathering. We settled in to domestic tranquility and started our scientific experimenting with Darwinism somewhat later than our contemporaries. We anticipated the stage at which both Offspring would begin to suffer embarrassment as a result of simply having parents- what I didn’t expect was that the mortification would run both ways.
Scenario #1: All the sweet little dumplings with Offspring #1 in first grade are learning to read and write. The parents are ravenous to examine all bits of literary minutiae in order to ensure John Jr III is on track for early admission to Harvard. The first project hangs artistically framed with construction paper and gloriously decorated with bric a brac outside the classroom. Fat Sesame street-style numbers dance around the outside of the wide ruled papers hung in a row.
“My Favorite Number is….”
Karate Kid ” 6 because that’s how many high kicks I can do all in a row.”
Brown Noser ” 2 because my sister and me equals two”
Offspring #1 ” 42 because that’s how old my Dad is”
Mrs. Apple- ever heard of re- direction? It’s a classic in the parenting department and I’m sure teachers can use it too.
Along with age comes an acceptance of certain parts of one’s physical appearance that can’t be altered or in my case just takes too much time and non-existent energy. Hair. In recent posts, I’ve lamented this recessive gene but usually won’t take any action to counteract this identifying characteristic. After the Gulf oil spill, my Aunt called, “Ouiser, I got a phone call from BP- they want to use your hair to clean up the oil spill.” Very funny. Although age has allowed me to embrace this freakish quality about myself, Offspring #2 is still experiencing difficulty. Part of averting mortification when one is an Offspring of a Clampett is to force that particular parent to look and act as much like the other parents as possible.
“Mom, when you come in to school tomorrow, can you please straighten your hair. Oh- also, can you put on that pretty blue shadow on your eyes? You look so pretty when you do that.”
On the other hand, Offspring #1 sees advantages in the defining characteristics of his parents in certain situations.
Scenario 3: New School (again)
Ouiser “After school I’ll be under the big tree in front of the school with the other moms- I’ll wait there until you find me.”
O #1 ” Don’t worry- you’re easy to spot- I just look for your big black afro.”
Huh? Apparently more smoothing cream is required. Or the blondes’ are getting really blonde and flat.
Let the mortification fest continue.
Scenario #4- Both Offspring are conducting interviews for Japanese classes. Naturally the questions designed by the sensei concern topics that routinely appear in casual conversation between teenagers. Topics such as hobbies, pets, and the age of one’s parents. What the Hell?
It wouldn’t be a school project unless it involved poster board, glue, markers and a hallowed spot in the hallway. Once again, Spouse and I enjoy the honor of being the oldest parents in the 8th grade. For the third time we have publicly been decreed “The Oldest Parents in the Grade” thanks to a teacher. Teachers- really- isn’t Middle School a tad old to be posting interviews outside the classroom?
Lately, Offspring #1’s does a disappearing act whenever Spouse and I appear. Admittedly, I had a slip in decorum when O #1 had the honor of delivering a speech to a gathering of his classmates a month ago. I sat a few rows from the front for stellar footage. Two of the young ladies giggled and pointed during his presentation so I did what any self-respecting mom would do, turned completely around in the chair, placed arm over the back of the chair, and gave the full on narrowed evil eye, lips disappearing in to a thin line of complete disapproval. They didn’t seem to care much but everyone around them withered on the spot. By the time O#1 got home I was famous. And in trouble.
Of course this wouldn’t be the first time I singled myself out at a school event. When O#1 was in 6th grade I separated two boys fist fighting on the gym floor while 30 other adults watched and 5 other boys cheered, “fight, fight, fight…” At that point, Offspring #1 started to understand that certain behavior was not tolerated in the Clampett family and it didn’t matter who you were.
Recently O#1 was picked to recite poetry in a contest much to his disgust and dismay. Given the honor, Spouse and I were invited to the “Jingle Jam Poetry Slam” by the English teacher and promptly uninvited by O#1. Was he afraid we’d wear black berets and snap enthusiastically upon completion of the recitation. Spouse suspects the honor is more similar to his middle school horror as the recipient of the “Chester Checker Player of the Year” Chess Award. We have to settle for the DVD.
The school International Bizarre became quite game of Hide and Seek. Him hiding, us Seeking. Growing up I had an Aunt who danced in Vaudeville. When I was 13 she was about 80 and still dressed as if she were a showgirl. She favored all purple, her hair completely white, with a disarming preference to dip the ends in black hair dye. I find myself imitating her more and more. I purposely toned down my outfit in order to “fit in” with the other moms. To no avail…He elected the BUS over the car. He gave us the slip once there since both of us worked food booths and could be easily avoided as he popped in and out of the crowded booths. Unfortunately for him, he wore a distinctive blue jacket which made him easily spotted by curious parents. Spouse and I laughed that he would eventually need money but he showed a wily side and sent Offspring #2 to fetch the additional yen. Of course, Offspring #2 is quite wily herself and could have used that as a ruse to get herself additional yen for more garbage as she’d been sucking me dry all day.
More walking around. A t-shirt booth selling brownies and shirts that said “Gay- fine by me.” Spouse bought a brownie and scanned the list of kids who had bought a t-shirt. Of the 15 kids who had bought one, right at the top was Offspring #1. Hmm. 1500 kids in the school and only a hand full who bought these t-shirts. It did our hearts proud to know that one day he will be equally embarrassing to his kids.