Kids are great. Everyday seems to bring a new and exciting development. Whether it is baby teeth falling out, the moment they read their first words or them memorising the moves to Gangnam Style, being a parent is full of weird and wonderful experiences. Well last week I had a bit of a first as a Mum. My five year old son told me how embarrassing I was.
This shocking blow to my self-image as a hip, young Mum came after I offered to go into my son’s school as part of work week and talk about what it was like to be a teacher. His response was pure comedy gold. Head in hands, eyes rolling, he informed me – with not a trace of irony in his voice – that if I came into his school, he would hide in the toilets until I had gone.
So how did this transformation from edgy Mum to tragic middle-aged specimen occur? I really didn’t notice it happening. But then who does?
I remember vividly how I felt about my Mum when I was a child. I had a really young Mum who what’s more, was a New Romantic. Dyeing her hair more often than a criminal on the run from the police, there were occasions when I literally walked past her at the school gates. Not through embarrassment you understand; just simply because I couldn’t keep up with her changing styles. Her idol was Souxsie Sioux…so don’t even get me started on the outfits. But despite the ample opportunities I was given to feel mortified by her very existence, I don’t ever remember feeling ashamed to be seen in her company. It was much later than this, as a teenager that I longed to be adopted.
It was all that awful movie, American Pie’s fault. In the late 90s, it seemed like a rite of passage that every teenager had to see it. Not only did it feature a seemingly hilarious and rather disturbing scene with an apple pie, it also brought the phrase “MILF” into the public consciousness. Standing for “Mum I’d Like to…” you get the idea. As a teenager, my randy pals had no end of fun telling me that my Mum fell into this category. Oh the shame. For the first time, I no longer wanted to be seen in public with my Mum; fearful of the pervy comments and lascivious looks from my peers…plus a little bit jealous that they preferred her to me. However, I was a teenager and I am sure this is normal. My son is five. Pretty shocking that it starts so early really!
I think deep down it was just a bit of a wake-up call really. When we become parents, we tell ourselves that we will be different from our own. I always thought that with my tattoos, piercings and rockabilly style, I would be one of the cool Mums. The kind that the other kids looked at longingly across the playground and wanted to run away with. But after thinking about it, I don’t really think cool parents exist. When you create a new life, some kind of transformation seems to happen and every single bit of hipness disappears. You are left with the sensible parts: the bits that worry about getting the meat out of the freezer to defrost, not mixing whites with colours in the washing machine and Sky+ the soaps if you do get out for a rare evening off.
So perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked at my recent trip to loserville. Kids should be embarrassed about their parents. If they aren’t, we are probably not doing our job properly. Actually, I think if we embrace our inner loser, it can be kind of fun. I for one am completely going to play up to this new stereotype. Now bring on the nearest disco. I totally have some Dad-style dancing to do.