My B+ Attempts at Being All That

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Tongue-Tied Word Vomit

on April 23, 2018

Keeping It Awkward with my Kids since 2000

I’m super awkward verbally. Well, I’m just plain awkward, but I can usually pull it together when my disjointed thoughts make it to a keyboard or scratch pad. But conversationally? I’m a mess. And that mess is one I lovingly share with my children over and over again during car trips. Doesn’t really matter how long the drive is. Sometimes there’s the bonus of the awkward conversation coming after the “He’s a doctor, so he’s allowed to ask you to drop your pants” appointment. Other times, it’s a simple drive to go shopping. I have a knack for taking a beautifully planned-out conversation and turning it into word vomit oh, so often in the car. Ask my kids. They will look away with a pained expression and confirm with an embarrassed nod. But it’s how we (I) talk about the important stuff. I yammer on. They nod their heads and pray for it to stop. Quickly. Because really, where can they go? Captive audience!

The Early Years

Oh, my goodness. Does anything beat those playing I-Spy in the car? Well, there’s a lot. Especially when I-Spy was the last resort in a long line of, “You have got to stop screaming or mommy is going to lose her stuff all up in this car!” But we chatted about important stuff. Like our ABCs and how private parts are private. About colors in nature and how peeing in a toilet is what all big boys and girls do. About how Jesus loves us, this we know and how “crap” is not an appropriate word (even though mommy has said it about a billion times). About how the cows in the big truck are probably just heading out to a playdate with all the other cows. And much later, when my kids mock me for not understanding how to configure my phone for the network and need their help, I remind them that I taught them how to put on pants. Probably while we were riding in the car.

Stuck in the Middle

Everyone told me that school age is the golden era. That I would be able to relax and enjoy my children. “Eight is great” was a mantra of so many mom friends. Eight was not great in our house. Or in our car. Eight was when I became a hopelessly inept elementary school job interviewer. When I finally learned to avoid asking, “How was your day?” and instead to ask things like, “So, were the Valentines we spent 18 hours making a hit?” Related: I learned to expect answers like, “Eh,” “Meh,” or eye roll. But some days, my kids got to enjoy pretending to listen to me while I told them that not everyone who chooses not to sit with them at lunch is a bully. That not every teacher is going to think they are the best thing since sliced bread. That deodorant is the best thing since sliced bread. That school lunch will not kill them. That surely not everyone in the school had a (fill in the blank with whatever the craze currently is) and that they are not in a position to call the authorities on me for neglect because I didn’t buy them one.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

And now, I have teenagers. I talk about the biggies like drinking. And shoes that don’t match the outfit. And how losing WiFi won’t kill them. And that drugs can. And how driving while under any influence will basically start a nuclear war (I like to drive home points with facts and really put them on their level). I talk about how the red lipstick is not flattering and how there’s a new nail polish that will change color when put into a drink laced with drugs. These are favorite times, for sure. My daughter is so well trained in being prepared for an awkward car talk that when I started to tell her about “first in, first out,” she visibly shuddered, thinking “She’s talked about everything awkward; what else even is there?” and then relaxed when I explained about how we need to rotate the fruit in the bowl so that the old stuff doesn’t rot on the bottom.

Equipping them for later

I feel like I’m giving them a gift: an entire arsenal of stories to tell when the conversation dies at a party. Every embarrassing talk is just one more opportunity to make someone laugh. Perhaps at their expense but most definitely at mine. And then, after that party, they will soberly get in their own car and drive safely home while planning all the awkward conversations they will have with their kids when the time is right.

I’d ask them if I’m right, but they scattered as soon as the car stopped.




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