Playdate or hanging out?

In hindsight, I should have graciously invited the other mum in for a cup of tea, but the kettle was obscured by a mountain of unwashed dishes which I simply could not take care of because I was extremely busy doing what all mums of certain-aged kids do when their kids have play dates – taking advantage of the quiet time while the kids entertained themselves without me. To be specific, I was reading the new book Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, and I couldn’t put it down – especially not for dirty dishes.

So back to that awkward front-porch scene. The other mum asked if the kids had had a good time, and I replied that yes, I thought they had, and not to worry, we hadn’t beaten her son, or forced him to eat snails and slugs, ha ha.
The children arrived just in time for my lame attempt at humour, and showed me, through their identical eye-rolling 10-year-old exchange of glances, just how lame it really was. And then, the icing on the cake – my daughter’s under-the-breath mutter in my direction: “Mum, you’re so embarrassing!”
There it is. I’m now an embarrassing parent. With children, we celebrate the milestones of first smile, first tooth, crawling, walking, first word, first day of school… But what about celebrating milestones for parents? I think that the day one is labelled “Exhibit A: Embarrassing Parent” should definitely be marked on the calendar and announced in a phone call to the grandparents.
The first part I didn’t do (because I couldn’t find my calendar, which is somewhere in the vicinity of the kettle), but I did call my mother. “Guess what? I’m officially an embarrassing mum!” I proclaimed, repeating the story of my front-porch ineptitude. After cackles and shared glee that I’ve finally “arrived”, she paused for a moment, then said, “Well, you can be an embarrassing daughter sometimes, too.” And proceeded to recount several instances from my own childhood when I’d embarrassed her in front of her friends.
The next time my daughter calls me “embarrassing”, I know just what to do – I’ll advise her to go call her grandmother to commiserate, because they seem to have a lot in common. Meanwhile, I’ll be reading my book, neglecting the dishes, and cracking lame jokes – because I now have the title Embarrassing Parent to live up to, and I might as well take the job seriously.
Enjoy your week.

Katherine Granich
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