It’s been an embarrassing week in the Hannah household, involving crowded shops, an escapee and partial nudity.
So embarrassing, in fact, that I am already plotting my revenge on my toddler Harry and Baby Olly; I’m just waiting for them to be old enough to really embarrass properly.
Maybe I’ll show their future partners their worst baby photos, or get tipsy at my son’s 21st birthday party and tearfully tell his friends that he’s ‘still my baby boy’. Maybe I’ll even volunteer at their school socials and then dance dreadfully to ABBA.
Whatever I do will be entirely justified by their actions this week.
The week that was
I still blush when I think of what happened this week. Harry has recently learnt that he can open doors on his own.
He put this new-found skill to practise in changing rooms of a large department store. He opened the cubicle door with a delighted shriek, so that the whole queue of waiting women looked up, and then he legged it.
I was in a state of undress, Baby Olly was strapped patiently into his buggy, and my two-year-old was gleefully setting off on his own into the big wide world. There’s not much you can do in that situation except run after him.
Thank you to the kind manager who caught him just as I was about to run out into the shop floor wearing very little. As it was, only the queue of waiting women saw my unintended streak.
And there’s more
Then there was the trip to the bank. I had Baby Olly in my arms as I stood quietly waiting for the cashier, when he suddenly began filling his nappy in that extraordinarily loud way that little babies manage.
The reverberations echoed around the queue with all the ominousness of distant thunder but unmistakably coming from my direction.
Unfortunately, there’s something about blaming the baby that makes people assume it’s you. A sort of ‘the lady doth protest too much’ attitude that meant when I started laughing and saying ‘It really was the baby’, all I got were sceptical looks.
But it really was the baby.
Before I had children I swore never to be an embarrassing parent. I thought I’d be an adult who actually remembered and understood the horror that is the teenage years.
I imagined that, as my children navigated the awfulness of first dates, unfair teachers and exam results, I’d be a reassuring friend. I pictured the teenage friends of my children stopping in my kitchen for a cup of tea and a chat. And I knew – knew – that I would never embarrass my children like other parents do.
After all, as a child, I can remember my red-faced, toe-curled embarrassment at my parents’ antics. From my father’s red trousers (why?) to my mother’s interest in my friends’ medical histories (she’s a GP), I ran the full gauntlet of parental embarrassment.
But as I outgrew my teens and became less stroppy, I decided that they hadn’t set out to embarrass me. Perhaps they were simply unaware of just how sensitive and prickly teenagers can be.
However, after this week I have changed my mind. Perhaps parents embarrass their kids as a form of revenge for the embarrassment their children caused them. After all, it’s a dish best served cold…
What do you think? Over-reaction or fair game? And what’s the most embarrassing parenting moment you’ve survived? Let me know in the comments below.