I’m going to congratulate myself as I doubt there is anyone else that might give me a high five for it (except for my Maria who has experienced this a different way) but I made another stride forward into dad-like territory the other day. I embarrassed the 9 year at the bus stop. The 9 year old? Maria’s son Jagger. The bus stop? The end of our driveway. The embarrassment? I dress like a guy that you warn your kids to stay away from.
Moms and dads have been embarrassing their kids since the beginning of time. Lincoln’s mom probably sent Abe to school with a diorama made of Lincoln logs. Confucius may have given his kids fortune cookies with their lunch. Nostradamus, no doubt, had kids that knew how he was going to do it. And me? Well I just wake up, take him to the end of the driveway and wait for the bus.
For myself it’s as simple as that, though for Jagger it’s a little different. Where I see myself in a winter coat with a hoodie, Jagger sees a guy that lives under an overpass smelling of gin and sweat that shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a 9 year old, never mind one that has to face to the kids on the bus who think said underpass dude needs a shave among other things…and pants. I’m not, not, wearing pants mind you, but I am wearing my pajamas. I realize I’ve slept in them but they’re not overly wrinkly, all I have to do is stand in them and they cover my lower half to the ankle, so to me, they’re pants enough.
To Jagger though they are confirmation that I don’t care one iota about his emotional well being on the school bus as the kids stare out the window at the freak in the military surplus looking jacket, menacing hood and ratty sneakers topped off with the jammies that should have me, not escorting a child to the bus stop but instead living on a supervised ward waiting for meds with my pudding.
He actually asked me if I could wear something nicer. Now I have to be honest, he was incredibly diplomatic about it, being just 9 and all, as he first asked me how he looked. I said his John Cena t-shirt looked cool and his hair was well haired…or combed…or well something-ed that would get across the fact that he looked fine and could we now start moving before we miss the bus and I don’t get to nap for 45 minutes? He then said that maybe I should try, you know, to maybe, kinda look as cool and well haired as I said he looked. And could I just maybe do this for our walk to and stay at the end of the driveway?
That’s when I knew. I know I shouldn’t be high fiving myself and applying congratulatory noogies to my own noggin but at the same time I’ve passed another important test, one that puts me on par with parents all across this ball. When you have embarrassed them, just by being you, you know you’re on the right track. Hopefully Jagger will be able to step back, years from now, and realize, as I did, that moms and dads are just being mom’s and dad’s. Priorities are a touch different.
My only concern is that he’s dressed warmly, gets on the bus with everything he needs and that he gets on safely. Doing it while looking cool enough for the job isn’t high on the checklist. Plus I figure it’s our jobs to embarrass you because if we don’t then we’ve tried too hard to be cool and we have most probably stopped being ourselves. (unless you’re just inherently cool to begin with, if so, then pthppt! tongue sound effect to you).