As I put the finishing touches on my nine-year-old daughter’s hair the other night, I smiled at her and said, "You and Daddy are going to have so much fun at the Daddy/Daughter dance tonight." The dance had been a long time coming. My husband ordered the tickets months ago and the wait had sometimes been excruciating for our daughter. After all, it’s not often you get to dress up and go out to dinner and dancing with your Dad.
She grinned, nodded, and adjusted her corsage. A few minutes later, I waved to both of them as they headed out the door. "Have fun!" I shouted as they got into the car and headed across the neighborhood to the club where the dance was being held.
Two hours later, the door flew open and our daughter rushed in. "How was it?" I asked excitedly before her Dad came in the house.
Without another word, she ran over to me and whispered in my ear, "Daddy dances like a surfing chicken."
I had my own experience with accidental parental nerdiness a few years ago. It was one of those moments when I thought I was funny, all the other parents thought I was funny, but my children were mortified. I had turned 40 a few days before October 31, and on Halloween, I decided to dress up like an old lady and walk down to school to pick up my children. I had a great mask, a realistic wig, a terrific pair of control top pantyhose, and my orthopedic shoes … well, they were to die for. As I arrived on school grounds, the other Moms crowded around me. "Oh," they laughed as they held their stomachs, "That is soooooo funny!"
Then my children came out of school.
Their faces looked horrified. My son acted like he didn’t know me. My daughter tried to go home with the neighbor lady. I tried to check myself into a nursing home far, far away. It was a disaster and I was definitely not cool in my children’s eyes. I realize now that it was just preparation for the adolescent years.
As parents, we think we’re cool, but I guess we’re not. We think we’re probably good enough dancers to be on the television show Dancing with the Stars, but our children think we dance like birds on Quaaludes. We think we’re more hilarious than any joke writer on Jay Leno, but meanwhile, our kids are secretly working on what they hope is the correct scientific formula for making parents invisible.
One recent afternoon, my son invited a friend over to play down video games with him in the basement. I yelled downstairs, "Does anyone want some fresh-baked cookies?" My son yelled back, "Just put the cookies on the stairs and then leave the area. We’ll get them once you’re gone."
I feel so loved. One day, I’m going to get those kids back when I am the hottest thing in that nursing home since sliced bread. Unfortunately, I’ll be in the same room with the surfing chicken. That’s definitely going to hurt my reputation.