Ignore your Child in Public and Earn Major Brownie Points

IΒ recently won at the slot machine of parent coolness. The lights were flashing, the alarms were going off. Coins were pouring out. (So now you know how long it’s been since I stood at a slot machine). My husband and I had a meeting at my son’s school. We showed up just as the kids were changing classes. Seconds after wondering aloud if we would pass him in the hallway, I saw his freckles in the distance. “There he is,” I said to my husband. “Pretend you don’t see him.” My husband never found him in the crowd, but as I walked by him, I intentionally turned my head away just as he pretended to say something very important to his friend next to him. Hee hee. Sure.

When he arrived home, I mentioned we had had a meeting at his school. He seemed a bit squirmy when I brought it up. Guilty conscience for pretending not to see me, perhaps? I mentioned that I saw him in the hallway and he practically read me a dissertation on all the reasons that just wasn’t possible. It was almost convincing. But moms have a certain radar, don’t they? When I finally started laughing and told him I purposely ignored him and knew he had ignored me, too, he let out a relieved sigh. Then I grabbed him up in a bear hug (which is permitted, provided all doors are closed and shades drawn) and told him I almost started jumping up and down as I pointed and screamed, “Look, there he is, my son, my son, so good to see you, are you having fun today in school, are these your friends, ooooooo, how nice, look how cute you boys are,” but I decided to play it cool. That got a good laugh out of him because he knows that’s not my style.

I must admit, all of this “do not acknowledge me in public” stuff is new for me. I was never embarrassed to be in the presence of my parents and I can’t remember my siblings or friends feeling that way either. At first, I felt pretty paranoid about it, but then I noticed that a lot of kids my son’s age felt exactly the same way. What’s up with that?

Were you embarrassed by your parents as a kid? Or, πŸ˜€ as an adult?

56 comments on “Ignore your Child in Public and Earn Major Brownie Points

  1. carldagostino on

    If you are with your parents, the other little kids think you are a little kid even though they are little kids too. My father was such a good man(he’s 88 now) all the time I later figured out I should never be ashamed of being seen with such a good man that my father was and is.

  2. Jessica Sieghart on

    I don’t remember ever being embarrassed by my mom or ignoring her. My oldest daughter and my third daughter used to be embarrassed even to have me drive them to school. I was like “You’re 12! How do your friends think you get here?” Kids. My second daughter and my son were never like that. Now that they’re a little older, three of them actually friended me on Facebook! #3 daughter still won’t budge. LOL. I think she’s afraid that one day I’ll post my Lady Gaga impersonation videos or something πŸ˜‰

  3. Zahara on

    So funny, the words and jumping you had to suppress upon seeing your boy!
    I can relate. This is the age where they learn to roll their eyes.
    I don’t remember whether or not my parents embarassed me when I was a teen, ’cause I’m too old to remember that, however, my mom embarasses me on a regular basis in front of my friends when she says things like “oh isn’t she beautiful, she’s so pretty,” etc, barf, barf. Am I still 3 years old? She gave me fuzzy leapord print slippers for Christmas, which I loved until she showed up and has the exact same pair. I just couldn’t wear them after that. I know, too much info….

  4. rebecca @ altared spaces on

    I think you can tell I’ve had a good time here, today. Oh-my-gosh. Lots of laughter.

    So, um. I’ve been known to give the sloppy hugs in front of the friends. Am I a bad mom? If it helps, I give sloppy hugs to the friends as well.

    Maybe that’s why I’m laughing so hard today. I can hear the stories I’m providing for my kids someday. Glad I’m material for someone.

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      Sloppy hugs all around. Maybe that’s the answer, Rebecca, though probably not when we’re talking 11-year-old boys. I have this vision of a gang of boys running for their lives, looks of horror on their freckled faces, while a mad, 45-year-old woman chases them with arms outstretched. “Night of the Living Dread.”

  5. Jess Witkins on

    Yah there were times my parents embarrassed me. But then I just got use to it. One time in high school, all my friends and I were hanging out in the basement and my dad brought down this enormous lifesize pillow that looked like a banana. He thought it was cool and a good deal. It actually became the prize piece of furniture down there. lol.

  6. huffygirl on

    When I was growing up, I would have been in big trouble if I’d ever let my parents think I was embarassed to be seen with them (even though, as a teen sometimes I was). Parents demanded more respect back then, I think.

    I’m sure there were times when my kids wished I was not around, but they were pretty cool about it.

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      I look at it as some weird hormonal phase. I can’t take it too seriously. And really, can you order someone not to be embarrassed by you? πŸ˜€

      Now if he were acting out in a disrespectful manner, that would be different. But he’s all politeness as he looks for the nearest rock to crawl under. πŸ˜‰

  7. Jackie on

    I’m going to be very sad when that day comes. Right now, when I handle bank day at Jessica’s school, as soon as she comes in, she walks over to me, gives me a big hug and kiss, in front of all her friends and even the boys that love to tease! Then she goes and makes a deposit and comes back to give me a big hug before I leave.

    I also think it is great that some of her friends who I coached 4 years ago, still come in and say “Hey, Coach Jackie!” They are really too cute!! It is all going to be a shame when they get the true “hand-to-the-face” attitude.

  8. Melinda on

    Ha ha. I do the same thing and don’t acknowledge the teens though lucky for them I’m never there. Except I ran the middle school pizza fundraiser a week ago and was in my daughters class because that is where the pizza was. She was horrified when she entered the room. As I approached her she frantically waved her arms and mouthed “nooo!!”. I don’t remember being like that as a kid and my mom practically lived there.

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      My mom lived at school, too. She was a member of the PTA. She was always in class if there was a special event. She attended school trips. It never fazed me in the least.

      I should put a black bar over your comment that says, “Don’t read this one, Jackie.” My sister will be freaked. You have a girl, too. πŸ™‚

  9. Richard on

    There were times when I was embarrassed to be seen in public with my parents, but not that often. However, I do feel it is my duty as a father to embarrass my son in public at every opportunity. May as well earn the sentiment. πŸ™‚

      • suzicate on

        At that age, I thought they were so “uncool” and out of touch with the way things were. It was more of a teenage thing than a childish thing. And if we were in public it was usually somewhere I didn’t want to be seen…little did it dawn on me that if I was seen in those places, it meant my friends were there, too, being seen by me! Of course, it didn’t take long after being on my own to find out how intelligent they were!

      • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

        Ha, funny how that “if you’re here seeing me, then I’m here seeing you” thing works, huh?

        If I had to guess, at this stage of Wee One’s life, he has no clue why it’s uncool to be seen with parents except that someone somewhere has told him that is so.

        Requirement #327 for Parenthood: Thick Skin.

        Thanks for stopping back to clarify, Suzi.

  10. Val Erde on

    The times I was embarrassed by my parents were when I was in my teens and got home very late with a boyfriend (think ‘early hours of the morning’ like 3am) and my mother told me off at the front door in these words: “do you know your electric blanket’s been on for hours?” (She put it on, without asking me, by the way). My boyfriend thought I lived with nutcases and fled. He was right, too! And one time when my dad was staring at another boyfriend (when I was eighteen, I think) and suddenly said to him, “I know what’s wrong with you! You’ve got clean fingernails!”

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      That’s hysterical! What exactly was the problem with clean fingernails? Was that a sign of something ominous? Reminds me of the saying:

      Beware of boys whose eyebrows meet for in their hearts there lies deceit.


      Anyone want to make an attempt at a poem about boys with clean fingernails?

      • Val Erde on

        Oh, there was no problem with clean fingernails, it was just that he was used to my boyfriends (who, like me, were hippies) looking dishevelled and… unwashed!

        Yep, a poem about boys with clean fingernails! Lol! (Not from me though at the moment, six hours sleep and me don’t make for much creativity!)

  11. bronxboy55 on

    It’s very typical, Margaret. I spent a long time feeling hurt, then trying to understand the behavior. I think it has something to do with the different roles kids play, depending on who they’re with. When both friends and parents are present, it forces the child to play more than one role at a time or walk a fine line in between; either way, it’s just easier to avoid the situation whenever possible. At least that’s what I think. Sounds as though you handled it perfectly.

    • Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

      Hey, Charles,

      Glad to see you. πŸ™‚

      The first time it happened, it took me by surprise because he is so different at home. But I caught on quickly and got over it. You may be right about the multiple roles thing.

      Hope all is well with you.

  12. workingtechmom on

    i was never embarrassed about my parents..and still am not. My daughter is 99% cool with me, and my son I’d say 80%. We do have a deal (14 year old son and I) that if he doesn’t hug/kiss just before we get to school/hockey, etc…I come and get the hug in front of everyone. Works so far.

    My husband and I did the same “walk by and don’t look at him” recently and he yelled at us “hey, can’t you see me”? We laughed so hard. He did not.

    One time I did hug him as he was getting on a bus for a 3 day school trip. I couldn’t hold it back. His buddies started razzing him, so I hugged two of them also. Everyone laughed at that one even the teachers.

  13. mybusinessaddiction on

    Hahaha! My son still wants to be seen with me but he’s just 5. I dread the day he tells me to drop him 2 blocks away from his school or not to hug him in public. I’ll be very sad :(. As for my parents embarrassing me– well, we were never a touchy feely bunch anyway.

    Love the post! K

  14. Linda Lewis on

    Embarrass my kids? The space isn’t long enough for me to list all the ways they likely wanted to disclaim me. But you know what? Now they want me to repeat those wild and crazy things with their kids because it’s fun. Go figure.
    Walking by without seeing your son was a good call, but there’ll come a time when he wants all the recognition you can give him.

  15. mysillymonkeys on

    Note to self — don’t drink morning coffee while reading your description of jumping, pointing, screaming, hugging. The monitor is now wet from spray of laughter!

    I already have a pit in my stomach just thinking about the day he’s embarrassed by my presence. The first time he wiped off one of my kisses, I teased that he had made my day by rubbing it in to make it last….

  16. Leo on

    I had never feel embrassed with my my parents,though they are farmer. They had tought my so much . I admire and appreciate them . When we are in public I always hold their hands .

  17. Todd Morris on

    As a dad now, I definitely hope that my kids never feel this way. However, I have first hand experience that even a very well meaning parent can embarrass kids of a certain age. I still remember pretty vividly, the time when I was about 11 years old. It was after a football game. I was standing there, still dressed in my pads, helmet in my hand, talking with a couple of my buddies, when my father walks over, sticks out his hand and says “Hi, I’m Todd’s daddy”. I was mortified. Although, in hindsight, I seriously doubt that my friends even noticed. Oh the things we stressed about when we were 11 … those were the days.


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