- Family and Parenting
When Your Child Embarrasses You... in Public
It Will Happen
I repeat: It WILL happen. In fact, it will happen more than once. Children really do say the darnedest things. What they never tell you is that they do the darnedest things as well. You never really appreciate that shade of red other people get in their face when their child says or does something in front of other people until you have it happen to you. You'll then empathize truly after that. The trick will be handling it will incredible grace and even humor. I never believed the horror stories. My child is an angel, right? Well, your child doesn't have to be doing something malicious to embarrass you. But, it will happen. And I will share a few of my highlights of embarrassing moments for you.
When my first son was younger, maybe around 2, my mother and I were walking around the store, he kept saying "mama uh oh". I didn't notice what was going on, until I saw people walking by glaring at me or smirking as they passed me. I looked down to see my scrawny little son and was horrified to see his pants were at his ankles as we were walking through the store. I was embarrassed for the poor child. I was embarrassed for me. He didn't really have that same feeling of embarrassment, he was giggling as I was struggling to figure out how to keep his pants up. I am thankful that today that they make ones with elastic bands inside of the pants to tighten them, as an 11-year-old boy he still uses them. I wish I could say this was the last of these moments with it, but sadly this did happen a few more times. My poor little scrawny boy.
Every Sunday, my family gets together to have a big dinner. This next story took place this past Sunday, and also is graphically disgusting. Sorry. The baby had been fighting a little stomach bug, but he seemed fine so I didn't think much about it. I checked his diaper before I went to finish off dinner preparations. My little one was hanging around my legs while I was cooking, and one of my brothers (who always ended up making him cry up until recently by just saying "hi" to him.) went to say "Hi". He smiled at my brother, and wrapped himself around my leg, asking to be picked up. So, I picked him up and SPLAT! We all just looked down to realize that he had exploded a massive amount of liquidy poop all over the floor. I was covered in it, my brother ran away yelling "I literally scared the poop out of him". And here I was with an audience, while myself and the floor were covered with it. My poor child was scared by the commotion. And the audience remained. I remained as cool as I could, when it smells that bad and I'm covered with it and people were staring. Luckily it wasn't in public public. Like these next two incidents.
These also involve bodily functions in public and my oldest son. The first one is why my husband and I never went back to Ruby Tuesday. We were having a nice lunch there with our oldest son, and all of a sudden he gets a pale look on his face. Before we could react, he vomits all over the table. The waitress looked like she was going to join in the apparent fun with a look of horror on her face, she ran off to grab whatever she could to help clean the mess up. From then on in, we would poke fun at our son by asking if he wanted to go back and eat there. I wish I could say this was the last time he vomited at the mall. At least the first time, we were in a secluded booth. The next time, he just let it go all over himself in the middle of the mall in front of a trash bin. Everyone walking by either had a look of disgust on their face or a look of "worst parents ever" as they watched me patting my 11-year-old's back as he vomited in the middle of the mall. I wanted to shrink down, but he was probably more embarrassed than I was and needed to be comforted.
These are just a few gems of embarrassing moments that I've had as parents. Other moments include my baby, the king of passing gas, doing it in public and people look at you like it was you and you don't want to tell them it was the baby because they would never believe that even if it's true. Everyone has their stories, though I would love to hear some of yours. Mine are probably mild in comparison to most people's horror stories. I have yet to chase one of them around in public after they strip down or whatever else children do. So I guess I can feel a little bit better about that.
Boys are Dirty
What to Do
Like I said, the key to these moments is how you handle them. Your child, depending on their age, probably doesn't even realize how embarrassing certain situations are. They don't feel that same level of shame as we do. But when the inevitable situation does happen, you need to handle it properly. And I'm here to help.
- Cooooool as a cucumber. This is the number one, absolutely remember this if nothing else, bit of advice. Handling a situation quickly and rationally is the best solution. We can fix the problem without having to make it into a bigger scene. Your child sticking their hand down their diaper in the middle of a crowded store? Just quickly pull their hand out without thinking twice. You'd be surprised how many people actually didn't notice.
- But when they do notice... Half the time, no one really notices when something embarrassing happens. But when they do, a little humor goes a long way. Laughter really is the best medicine. Did your child vomit in the middle of the mall? "Guess he shouldn't have eaten the fish." Laughing about it will make yourself feel better, and it'll make the people who notice respect your fortitude, because as a parent you'll need a lot of it.
- The tables will turn. There isn't a whole lot of useful advice on this that I didn't already say, but this one is true and will make you feel better: Soon it'll be your turn. Soon enough, you'll be the one embarrassing your child in public and they'll realize what they put you through. It's the circle of parenting life: your child embarrasses you, you return the favor. Sometimes, revenge is sweet. Like the idea that after changing all their diapers, some day they'll change yours. Consider that next time something turns your face cranberry colored.