October 03, 2016
Mom Please Don’t Embarrass Me (The Room Mom and other times my mom came to school)

In some worlds being a Room Mom is a coveted position. When Molly started school I wanted to be there all the time. I loved helping and Molly loved having me there. The other room mother (who had older kids too) was very experienced and I learned a lot.

Halloween was our first event and we planned an entire afternoon, you could do that then. We bobbed for apples, not as successful with lack of teeth at that age, played "Pin the Nose on the Witch", and had lots of treats. For Christmas, we decorated homemade tree sugar cookies and the rest of the year the activities were in keeping with the holiday.

I was a room mother for all of the kids and there were years that I had multiple rooms. In the beginning of each new child, I was the best in their eyes, so proud that I would spend time in their classroom. I really felt like I had a gift for this job and I loved planning and seeing the kids enjoyed the activity. It was the job with life long potential.

I moved from Room Mom, to Partners in Art Lady, to School/Church committees. As the kids got older my skills for the job became embarrassing. It was not that my skills changed, it was that my kids became much more sophisticated and aware that their friends were watching me. The greatest gift that I could give, as a human being, was NOT embarrass my children.

I had many chances to embarrass them. Jim and I were forbidden to chaperone dances, even if we promised to be the parents working outside of the actual dance. On a particular mother/son event, I was asked, “you aren’t going to dance with the other moms are you?” My reply was that I hoped to dance with him; he said he didn’t dance but I could watch him play Texas Hold’em, that’s why the other moms danced with each other. I worked the senior parties of the last 7 kids. I was there all night and I know the kids thought I was there to watch them, duh, I was! They were so perceptive!

Embarrassing the kids became a daily thing: I would drop them at school, roll down the window and say “Have a good day!” How could I?! When Jim would drop them off, he rolled down the window and yelled, “youuuuuu whooooo, I love you! Honey, have a good day!” Even the father that they all adored would cross the line. The day he was not paying attention and lightly tapped the parked school bus (no kids on it) and the very large, stern bus lady got out of the bus and came back to yell at him, the kids wanted to transfer schools. Actually transfer to a school in a different state. I have lived this 8 times over, after awhile it was a challenge to see how different ways, without really trying I could embarrass.

Like the time one of my girls had a dentist appointment immediately after school. I drove to the junior high, parked and waited. I was afraid that she would not see me, so I got out of the car and stood by the door of her school bus. As I recall I was wearing a lovely red plaid dress (very becoming at about 71/2 months with my 8th child), and yes, everyone saw me (that was the idea). The bell rang, doors opened and students started pouring out of the building. I saw my daughter just before she saw me. She was smiling and laughing with her friends, then she caught sight of me and a brief look of horror crossed her face. As she neared the bus, with a very faint smile on her face, I explained that I didn’t want to miss her and told her about the appointment. When we got in the car, she said how much she appreciated my coming to get her, but from now on, because I was so tired, I should just stay in the car and beep the horn and she would see me. How I had raised such thoughtful children! In their eyes, they never embarrassed their father or me. I think, in their eyes it is a miracle.

I seem to have grown out of my embarrassing behaviors; at least, no one seems to cringe when I do things. Actually they seem to genuinely enjoy being around me and we have a good time together. In fact, my card playing son and I just picked the song we are going to dance to at his upcoming wedding.

Bullet Points:

  • God intended for parents to embarrass their children. (I think it is one of the virtues, under humility)
  • The more subtle the embarrassing act is, the better. Your children may have a little more compassion if they think you just can’t help yourself.
  • If you can laugh at yourself, when the kids are mortified, you just might teach them that life should be fun and to not take themselves too seriously.
Colleen Ryan