How (not) to embarrass teenagers on vacation


I’m on vacation with my kids, thinking I’m a cool mom adventurer.  We are on a jeep headed to the top of a mountain when I begin to make conversation with some young girls who are riding up with us. My teen daughter whispers in my ear to stop making conversation because she finds my “friendliness” embarrassing.

As a parent of a teen, I’ve become used to hearing:  Mom, you’re being so embarrassing!

So far, a few days into vacation, I have heard this every time I say something I find funny, make conversation with strangers, pass gas in front of any other human being, wear my shorts at what’s considered by them an inappropriate length (either too short or too long)or talk in a voice they consider too loud. My husband hears it every time he tries to sing.

Meanwhile, my 10-year-old son still worships me. Thank god!

What is it about the teen years that bring out this utter embarrassment with parents?

I take comfort in a warning from Adam Gopnik of BBC News Magazine: The one thing that is written into the human genome is that exactly at the age of 13, your child – in a minute – and no matter how close or sympathetic the two of you have been before, will discover that you are now the most embarrassing, ridiculous and annoying person on the planet. This is a universal truth.

This embarrassment/annoyance  will sometimes be expressed in a tone of pitying condescension, and sometimes in one of exasperated wrath, he says.

So parents, it’s not us, it’s them. Of course, once you are declared embarrassing, you may as well live up to your teen’s belief that you cannot keep your absurdity to yourself.

My husband and I are threatening to ride around the golf course at our hotel at dusk on bicycles completely naked.

Now, that would give a teen something to be embarrassed about!


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