How to Embarrass Your Teenager
Image credit: Magdalena Oppenheimer
All I did was tag my kid on Facebook
Remember that time you were in the supermarket and your four-year-old kept dumping that sugarcoated cereal into the cart after you removed it while your 15-month-old just sat in the cart and wailed? Remember how people walked by you staring and frowning?
Take a look at the picture of your eight-year-old in a Supergirl Halloween outfit glaring at the camera because you, evil, busy mother, did not get to the costume store early enough to secure a belly dancer costume in her size. Remember how she sulked and refused to say “Trick or treat” at each house you went to, so you had to step in and say it for her? That was fun.
Ah, parenting little kids as a Solo Mom is a barrel of laughs at your expense. But as your offspring enter the double digits and hormones kick in, revenge can be yours. Before they make your life difficult and then fly off to lead their own lives, why not give them some embarrassing memories of their own?
And if you’re worried about scarring them for life, just remember that you’re a Solo Mom living among nuclear families and that ship has sailed. Consider them permanently scarred anyway. And I mean that in the best “builds resilience” sense possible—and at least they won’t return to live with you after college. The fact is now that you are rounding mile 20 in this marathon, you deserve a break, even if it is at their expense. Parenting teenagers can lead you toward Heartbreak Hill, so be sure to allow yourself a few laughs. It’s so much better than crumpling up in a ball and crying.
Here’s a starter list for some tried-and-true methods of recycling the chagrin.
Keep treating them like third graders:
- Put notes in their lunch boxes with emojis on them.
- Remind them to shower and get in their jammies while they are FaceTiming their friends.
- Escort them into school. This one is especially good if you are wearing gym clothes or—even better—slippers and a bathrobe.
No place is off-limits:
Facebook. This isn’t working as well as it used to because Facebook is for “old people.” Still, if your teens are a bit old school, here are some handy blush inducers:
- Comment on everything they post.
- Use every Throwback Thursday to post pictures of them in diapers or in the bathtub.
- Take every quiz and post your results: “I got genius level!”
- Whine and post complaints about everything from traffic and weather to garbage disposals and manicures.
Twitter. “Things I told my kid who wasn’t listening” makes for a great Twitter feed. Share the love!
Snapchat. Although this doesn’t have the same long-term staying power, it’s fun to send little messages about and to your kids or share small moments of you chatting with the pets while sporting whiskers, ears, dog noses, etc.
Instagram. Insist on family-time pictures and Instagram them all. Then complain on Facebook that the next generation doesn’t know how to live in the moment.
Real life. And speaking of the moment . . . whenever you can bring the awkward to public interactions, go for it! Stand out! Let that Solo Mom flag fly!
Up close and personal
Here’s how to be yourself and annoy them:
At school events. Let people know how outmoded and backward you find institutional forms that insist you have to fill out information concerning the other parent. At back-to-school night, remember to cheerily inform the room that you are doing all this parenting by yourself, but that’s OK because you are tough on the outside, mush on the inside! This is especially potent if you insist your child comes with you to donate requested school supplies or baked goods.
At home. Keep the power tools in plain view. Remind your kids and their friends that you know how to fix things because someone has to do it. Explain that if you can do these repairs, they can do anything in life. If they thought about it, they’d realize how warped and illogical this is, but they will be too busy trying to come up with a retort. For years.
Chores. Make a big deal of how the train can’t run unless all the parts are working! It is a special kind of embarrassing to be reminded that the chores have not been done—especially in front of peers. Teenagers want to think of themselves as grown-ups but not in terms of your idea of adulthood. Remember, as a Solo Mom, there’s no one else around to give them that break from your sighs of disappointment!
Remind them. And while you’re being yourself, don’t forget to remind your kids of how you used to have a life, too. As a Solo Mom, you can do that without worrying about jealousy or recrimination from a significant other.
When you’re alone. Share stories from your own adolescence. Tales of terrible illnesses involving projectile vomiting and lack of tampons are always inspirational!
In public. Notice (out loud) how attractive anyone is, male or female. Add a sideways glance, so you can get the “Ew, you are so pervy” side-eye back.
Life in general. Enjoy sunshine, rain, the first snow, cold or hot weather, going outdoors, and getting into bed with a sigh. Then shrug and explain that one day they will realize that you are more than their mother—you are a person. Let them chew on that for a while.
Are you staring at your sweet tween children and thinking that you could never do that to them even once they become adolescents? Here’s a simple thing you can start now and continue as they hormonally transform into the Kraken: breathe. Teens really hate it when adults sit near them and breathe. After all, it’s soooo embarrassing!
Margot Kessler, a screen and television writer living in Los Angeles, is the sporadically witty Solo Mom of two lovely daughters.
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