Your child may be the greatest joy of your life, but they’re also probably your deepest source of embarrassment, too. You’re not embarrassed of them, like as humans, of course, but having a child is like having your id’s external monologue flapping its gums beside you all day long. At some point, they are going to say something or do something that creates really awkward situations for everyone in the general vicinity.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I don’t think they do these things on purpose. But sometimes it’s hard not to believe that their antics are not part of a sinister plot to break our spirits or a kind of trolling they’ve completely committed their lives to until they turn about 12. I imagine reddit and 4chan boards full of babies being like, “Last night I totally just pwned my mom. Her boss was over for dinner. As soon as he picked me up and told me how handsome I was, I started wailing (being sure to get snot on his shirt) and screaming ‘Bad man! Bad man! Put down!’ LOL! Our living room is this shade of red called "Venetian Sunset" and that’s the exact color my mother’s face turned when it happened.” (Yes, I blamed 4chan for baby's snotting on people. Yes, I will continue to blame 4chan for almost everything wrong in the world.)
But then, when they hit about 12 years old, the tables turn. Apparently, that's the point at which everything we do will be unbearably embarrassing to them. Parents arise! The hour has come! This is our moment! But if you’re like me, and have just about a decade to go until the teen years, here are some awkward moments you can expect to look forward to — again and again. May you take comfort in knowing that we’ve all been there, or will be.
When Someone Asks When You’re Due — After You’ve Given Birth (Sometimes Way After)
From time to time, a non-observant person who doesn’t realize you are holding an obviously newborn baby will come up to you and say something like, “Oh my gooossssssh, your baby is so cute! And you’re having another already! When are you due?” You’re not pregnant, but the chilly silence in the air is. It’s pregnant with your seething anger and hurt feelings and their realization that they’ve really put their foot in their mouth. But above and beyond all that, it just gets really, tremendously awkward, because there’s nothing they can say to take it back, and there’s nothing you can say to magically make the situation all better. So when this happens, it’s important to remind yourself that the person who has made this mistake is likely (and rightly) feeling waaaaaaaaay more awkward than you. Take advantage of the fact that you are basically in control of the situation. Feel free to use this power for good or evil, depending on how much you like this person...
When You Are Out And The Bathroom Does Not Have A Changing Table (Um, Where Do You Change Your Baby?)
Do you put their sweet little heads on the dirty bathroom floor? Is the counter of the sink big enough? Is that really uncouth? Do you try to find a secluded corner somewhere? Do you go out to the car? What if it was valet parking? What if you didn’t go by car? Do you awkwardly ask management if there’s somewhere you can do this? Dear god, this is really hard, why is every public restroom not equipped with a changing table?!
When You Misread Someone's Comfort Level And Start Breastfeeding, But Once You're Into It, You Realize How Deeply Uncomfortable The Person You’re With Is
If you’re a nursing mother, this has almost certainly happened to you at some point: You’re chatting with someone, your baby gets hungry, and the other person notices. They give you a look that seems to say, “Please go ahead and feed your child!” They may even say, “Oh, go ahead, feed the baby.” But maybe they meant “go and feed your baby”, or maybe they thought they would be cool with having you nurse in front of them, but they overestimated their level of coolness with the situation. The point is that now that you’re settled in for a full-on nursing sesh, they are clearly blushing, and you’re just sitting there, with a baby attached to you, unable to move or even make eye contact with your now cagey friend and you’re like, “Well crap, this took a turn.”
When Your Child Has A Complete Emotional Meltdown In Public
No matter how old your kid is, it’s going to be slightly to extremely embarrassing when they kick up in a public space. When they’re infants and start wailing for no discernable reason? Yeah, that’s awkward, because you literally can’t do anything to stop it. You will probably get some dirty looks, but fortunately most reasonable people know you’re doing your best. Then you hit the toddler years where your kid wants a toy and you say no and they freak the eff out. All eyes are on you. All those judgmental, horrible eyes. As you physically pick up your child and carry them kicking and screaming out of the store they start wailing, “Help! Heeeeeeeeelp! This isn’t my mommy!” (I know it’s been 30 years, but sorry again, mom.)
When Your Baby Throws Up Or Poops On Someone
My daughter once pooped on my snarkiest uncle and to this day, he only refers to her by a nickname suggestive of this fact (I’ll spare you the details). I mean, as parents we do not control our children’s bodily functions. (If we did, there would be creepy levels of psychological torture and/or wizardry going on.) It’s not our fault when our kid decides, “Oh, I’m very comfortable with this new person holding me… I choose now to have one of my thrice daily blow-outs,” but we’ll never stop thinking like there’s something we should have done to prevent this. (Sometimes paying for their dry cleaning makes everyone feel better…)
When You Need To Explain To Your Child Why They Can’t Be Naked In Public
I could retire now if I had even $1 for every time I had to tell one of my children that they aren’t allowed to be naked in front of company. Being children, they are big fans of nudity, and they don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. If you want my honest opinion, these little dudes have the right idea. Alas, the rest of society has not quite caught on yet, so clothed they must be. Of course, they’ll often want to have that deep philosophical discussion about clothing with you in front of company, while naked. And you have to walk that delicate balance between getting their naked butts covered and not instilling a sense of shame in them about their bodies.
You: Sweetheart, put your pants on, please.
You: Because we have guests over.
You: What I meant was, when we have guests over it is not appropriate to be naked.
You: Because naked bodies are okay, and if you want to be naked, you can do that alone in your room, but your naked body is just for you to see, because it’s special.
Them: Oh. I don’t mind.
Why did I have to go and raise such a self-confident preschooler?!
When Your Child Announces A Fart
And not necessarily their farts, which is bad enough because, OMG, kid, no one needs to know you just farted. Sometimes they’ll announce someone else’s farts. A stranger, your grandparent, your boss… hell, sometimes they’ll announce your farts, and if you don’t respond to them in some way, they’ll say it louder and louder and louder until you’re like, “Yeah, sweetie, you’re right.” You can try to deny it, but that just makes the conversation go on longer. You’re busted. Accept it and move on.
When They Get Too Real With You
High school mean girls and douchey frat bros have nothing on the uninhibited honesty of a small child. Whether they are telling you exactly how they feel about you after you took away their toy for misbehaving, or if they want you to know their opinion on your outfit or haircut, they don’t hold back, and it’s not always what we like to hear. The worst is when they do it in the stone-cold kid voice.
Them: I don’t like that lipstick.
You: You don’t? Why?
Them: It makes you look ugly.
You: That’s not a nice thing to say!
Them: It’s not a nice lipstick. You should take it off and then throw it in the garbage.
You: I like this lipstick.
Them: It’s still ugly.
When You Have To Explain Why You Cannot Marry Your Child When They Grow Up
The Ancient Greeks actually had four different words for love — agápe, éros, philía, and storgē — to distinguish the different nuances that exist within that most magical of emotions. I totally vote for bringing something like that back, but kids are notoriously bad at ancient Greek history and linguistics, so they probably wouldn’t get it anyway. When they adorably say, “Mommy! I love you so much I want to marry you!” and you hug them and explain that you can’t, they don’t see that as a way to avoid a Freudian nightmare, but as a straight-up rejection. So then you have to find a way to navigate all this. My suggestion would be to read them Oedipus Rex at bedtime, then close the book and ask them pointedly, “Do you think marrying mommy is such a good idea now?”
When Your Child Innocently Asks An Inappropriate Or Offensive Question Really Loudly
Everything is new to a child, and as such, children are intensely inquisitive, which is a good thing! Unfortunately, one of the last things a child learns about before reaching adulthood is tact, so their curiosity will inevitably embarrass you at some point or another. From “What are those two monkeys doing, mommy? Are they fighting or hugging? Is that one giving the other one a piggyback ride?” to “Why is that man wearing pretend hair?” to “Is that lady’s wrinkly skin real or is just a costume?” to “Why is that boy’s mom letting him do things that are bad? He’s bad!” your kids are a veritable cornucopia of observations and comments that if they came from an adult would be aggressive judgments, but in a child are just completely legitimate questions.
Images: Romper; Giphy(10)