When it comes your children, there is a very fine line between being a cool parent and being "like totally embarrassing." I wish there was a definitive age where children change from "Mama can do no wrong" status to ""Dear God, please rid me of this albatross around my neck" status so that parents can at least prepare for the inevitable.
My misspent youth was particularly painful when it came to parental embarrassment because I am born of very sadistic people who actively went out of their way to mortify me for their own amusement. I'm sure you're thinking, "Oh, hogwash, Ashley! Everyone thinks that their situation is the worst!" Probably, boys and belles, but at least let me state my case:
To the best of my recollection, I started walking either three steps ahead of or three steps behind my parents around about seventh grade because that was when a kid moved to junior high school in the Stone Age. The stupid boy/girl cat and mouse game started, the pretty girls got to be cheerleaders and the boys got to wow us with their phenomenal hackey sack skills and brightly colored shirts sporting surfboard wax logos (not unlike the male peacock prancing around to woo the peahens). There were also those terrible, traumatic, horrible dances in the school gym.
Oh God, I just threw up a little in my mouth at the very thought of those dances, but I shall persevere.
Waaay back in the day, my parents and their friends threw raucous birthday parties for each other. For my mother's fortieth birthday there was a port-a-potty dropped on our front lawn amid about two hundred plastic flamingos brought in specially for the grand occasion. Those wild birthday parties included gag gifts and my dad ended up being the proud owner of a Harley Davidson t-shirt while my mother was, for some reason, given a bright red Dusty Rhodes "The American Dream" t-shirt.
Gentle Reader: If you don't recognize the name Dusty Rhodes, please proceed immediately to Google and look his ass up because I could tell you that he was a pro wrestler, but pitiful words simply don't do him justice.
For some sick and depraved reason, my parents thought that it would be more fun than a barrel of monkeys to pick me up from dances, the movies, slumber parties and most any other social event you can think of wearing the aforementioned shirts. On really special occasions, Dad would add a blue bandanna do-rag and the scruffy beginnings of a beard. It's possible that he added a fake earring to the ensemble once, but I'm not sure if that really happened or if it was just a nightmare.
Fodder for a therapy? Going with my parents to a Willie Nelson concert when I was eleven years old and witnessing my father standing on a chair in the middle of Trask Coliseum wearing his Harley gear and hollering, "PLAY WHISKEY RIVER FOR ME, WILLIE!" My own little "Freebird" moment.
Dad really kicked things up a notch when the whole dating scene came around. My father is an avid hunter (if it flies, it dies) and he has more shotguns than a pawn shop at Christmas. Right before the appointed time of my date's arrival, he would lay all of his shotguns out in the living room because they allegedly needed to be cleaned right that minute. When the unsuspecting young man entered the house, he could then survey all of the firepower combined with Dad doing his best John Wayne impression while cleaning the barrel of a gun, "Curfew is 11:00. Not 11:01 and not 11:00 and 59 seconds. Clear?"
They were usually pretty clear.
So, I know all too well that the time is coming when my baby belles will be either accidentally or intentionally embarrassed by their mother. I guess I have no choice but to embrace the shame like those before me. I'm thinking that the 21st Century's answer to the Dusty Rhodes t-shirt is might be Steven Seagal...