Now that the school year is well underway, and I have one kid in college and another entrenched in high school, I think it’s time for me to share the most helpful hints I have gleaned from the past two decades. So I started making lists. For the kids, I made college inventory lists, sports gear lists and Summer Reading lists. For myself I made lists that focused on survival strategies. MY survival strategy. Here is the list that guides me the most:
Ten Great Ways to Embarrass Your Kids
- Greet your child’s bus after every field trip, excursion or bus-riding affair carrying a big “Welcome Back!” sign and balloons. Cry tears of joy. Cheer and clap as each child disembarks.
- Make your spouse join you and randomly don Santa and Mrs. Claus costumes and visit your child in the cafeteria for lunch. Carry jingle bells and shake them in people’s faces as you call the lunchroom monitors by the wrong first names. Remind the teachers that Santa knows what they did in college before they became teachers. Shake those jingle bells a little too violently.
- Be the parent who sends too much celery to every holiday party.
- Bake mounds of ethnic pastries for teacher gifts. Give giant, tissue-wrapped plates to the school secretaries and crossing guards with your child’s name on the gift tag. If you don’t have a strong ethnicity, buy pierogies and dip them in creme de menthe.
- Don’t just be social media smart, be social media savvy: fully participate in Instagram, Snapchat and whatever your child favors. Post your own Snapchat stories about parenting. Make it clear whose parent you are. Create a cutesy username that incorporates your child’s name. If you are extra-motivated, use several words that run together to form unfortunate swear words.
- Check everybody’s need to potty at all times. Use the word “potty” twice in most of your sentences and point out how versatile “potty” is as a noun, verb and even an adjective. Obsessively give examples. Announce when you need to potty. Ask females if they’d like to join you to potty in the potty. If no one takes you up on the potty opportunities, offer adult diapers and explain that you keep them on hand “for those special times” and wink at your child.
- Name your car. Name your cell phone.
- Name your child’s backpack. Use those names exclusively, as in “Nancy is filthy dirty,” “Gordon is so loud at night that the neighbors complain that they hear him too well” or “If you didn’t keep leaving Bob in the trunk, you’d be able to find him when you needed a book.” If people ask why you name inanimate objects, tell them that your children haven’t lived up to your expectations so well.
- Randomly invite the parents of your children’s friends out to coffee. Divide the bill to the penny. Buy lots of whatever fundraising stuff they mention.
- Pick up your dinner plate and lick it clean, especially at spaghetti dinner fundraisers. Take plenty of Ziploc bags for the free refills you collect for dinner the next day.