I have always encouraged my children to be the same. Never wanting them to feel insecure but proud of who they are and where they come from. Like any life lesson though, it takes time to “get it.” My oldest is now two years into teenagerville. Most of us know this is a time that can metaphorically make or break a spirit… It’s also tough on the teenager.
At the beginning of each new experience/activity, I try to calm everyone’s nerves. “Who cares that you don’t know anyone at this camp or club or game? Just be nice. But not overly nice. Not “desperate” nice; friendly. Remember we are all the same. Some are just taller or thinner. And some are just mean. Be nice to all of them; especially the mean ones. Mean people need a friend when everyone turns on them.”
A few weeks ago we arrived at a kid-friendly get together where my boys and I didn’t know anyone. Before entering, both of them look around nervously. Looking at those shy faces takes me back to my adolescence and how awkward those years were. But I couldn’t let them see my concern. I was getting weak and children can smell weakness on an adult like a shark can smell another fish in distress from 10 miles away.
We stepped out of the car and I froze. There they were. Standing. Tightly holding their Styrofoam cups filled with steaming, overpriced coffee. Clutching the fitted holder that acts not only as protection for their perfectly manicured fingers but also a clever advertisement for the latest diner/luncheonette/coffee shop.
When my youngest started run toward an oversized inflatable, I grabbed the neck of his shirt and pulled him back in front of me. There was no need to hold my oldest back since he doesn’t notice anything not displayed on the screen of his cell phone.
The parking lot was like high noon at the ok coral. Those of us new to this group stood on one side of the parking lot and on the other side, they stood, looking as if they had each stepped out of a fashion magazine. I’d become immune to women with perfect figures but would like to initiate an act that would make it illegal to wear a size 4 less than 1 year after giving birth. Punishable by a fine up to 25k and 6 months of living in a McDonalds Restaurant with no physical activity.
When both kids were trying to shimmy out of their shirts to escape my grip, I snapped out of it. I’m trying to teach my kids to be open to new people but their mother is mentally behaving like a 7th grader. Intimidated by a few women who just happen to look perfect. It’s not their fault they have no acne, stretch marks or extra weight. So I march over to introduce myself. Right before reaching my hand out, I trip over a parking lot speed bump. While I didn’t fall flat on my face it was still embarrassing. When I heard giggles I decided not to say hello. These women were not my type. Who giggles at someone falling? A fall deserves a belly laugh and if you can’t appreciate a good fall you’re no friend of mine.