July 9, 2012

"You are embarrassing because, in spite of being ridiculous, you are not content to keep your absurdity decently to yourself..."

"... but insist on parading it around in public, greeting the 13-year-old's friends and teachers as though you were a normal human being and not a kind of ward of the state, on the brink of being permanently committed."

23 comments:

Joe said...

Teenagers can be incredibly self-centered. They are convinced they are unique and the only one on the planet to feel this way or that. This is all normal and part of growing up, though sometimes it gets comically extreme, such as when a teenager screams "you don't know what it's like" about something they know damn well you know quite a lot about.

edutcher said...

Mark Twain said it best 125 years ago, Gopnik expresses nicely, too, although a bit more colloquially.

traditionalguy said...

Hints: Don't tell them about your liking Bob Dylan's singing, or they will consider having you sent to the funny farm.

And at age 18 when you leave them off at college and turn to say good bye, DO NOT hug them where their peers can see it.

Then when their children arrive, all of the good you ever did with and for becomes part of the tradition they try to repeat for their babies. It's quite touching.

wildswan said...

To me it's like two different ways of talking - one, the teenage clique where every word refers to situations I'm not part of (Thank God)and two, the teenage fact of growing up - where a deadline for being on one's own - emotionally, financially, ethically - is coming closer and closer. How are you going to make a living? - is almost there for those not going beyond high school. But everything one has to say on this has been said - it's all just chewed string. They're in limbo in what I'm trying to say, waiting for the world to begin. Maybe the new ways of learning will change this limbo as well as changing education

SunnyJ said...

Hell yeah it's crazy..it's suppose to be. Laugh often, laugh at yourself and teach your children to laugh at themselves as well. The island of participation ribbons and indulgent phony self esteem will suck their brains out and turn them into pathetic whiners. You just tell them, you're their parent and it's your job to embarass them, and your work ethic requires that you do and do it well...then, ask them how you're doing. When they tell you 100% disgusting, give em the fist pump and go on with your day.

The think skinned, it's not fair, humorless, whiney, perpetually offended child must be owned by the parent that created the monster. Don't like it change it. And, again, don't forget...it all starts with being able to laugh at your own dumb ass stuff first!

Revenant said...

I didn't find my parents embarrassing or annoying. I was too busy being embarrassed by myself.

theMickey's said...

funny.

CWJ said...

I don't know how many other exchange parents have discovered the same truth. But the key is to NOT be their friend, but to continue to be a parent.

We high school exchange parents have the advantage of being able to be parents without having changed their diapers. Its a metaphor that completely captures the different dynamic between exchange parents and natural parents.

Over the years it has been amazing to us how much our "children" have accepted our potentially embarrassing parenting.

Natural patents can only continue to soldier on and not be their pal. The amazing thing is that over time your children will come to have enough similar life experiences that if you're lucky well then you can become pals.

EMD said...

That's not to say, that I, as a parent, won't go out of my way to be embarrassing or annoying ...

Freeman Hunt said...

Heh.

My husband and I will someday fall under annoying.

jeff said...

Agree with CWJ. The problem is when the parent is concerned about being cool in the eyes of their kids and their kids friends. The good parents don't care and just do their job.

Phil 3:14 said...

But when they get to their twenties, it gets better.

"Dad, can I ask your advice on something?

MadisonMan said...

A sense of humor, and the ability to laugh at life's absurd moments, including those that entangle you, helps teen year management.

rcommal said...

Dang. My kid is precocious.

And, yes, I am ridiculous.

So it goes.

; )

Gary Rosen said...

"A sense of humor, and the ability to laugh at life's absurd moments, including those that entangle you, helps teen year management."

It helps a lot more than just teen year management.

DEEBEE said...

There is a juvenility to the article that seems to mimic adolescent propensity to sweeeping genralizations from angst to jour

sydney said...

Yes, they do outgrow it. Best to stick to your guns. My 19 year old and I recently disagreed on a plan he had to go to New York City by himself. (This is a boy from the Ohio suburbs who has never been in a large city. He wanted to drive there and had no plans on where he would be staying ,etc.) In the end, he listened to me. And when he did, he said,"Mom, I'm doing this because I respect you." What more could a mom ask?

Rusty said...

You are embarrassing because, in spite of being ridiculous, you are not content to keep your absurdity decently to yourself, but insist on parading it around in public, greeting the 13-year-old's friends and teachers as though you were a normal human being and not a kind of ward of the state, on the brink of being permanently committed.



Yep. That's me.

I've found as I get older nothing gives me more enjoyment than annoying the hell out of younger people. Embarrassing my children in public is an added bonus.

lemondog said...

Lots of humorous comments.

re: First generation, I consider first generation as a naturally born citizen of a country whose parents are foreign born citizen and who immigrated to a new country of residence.

lgv said...

I usually focus I how stupid we become. It's as is if we lost 100 points of IQ when they turn 13.

Fortunately, you start gaining IQ points back when they graduate high school. By the time they are 30, you are only 30 points below your original inflated level back when they were 8.

ken in sc said...

My formerly teenaged son embarrassed himself quite well without my help. He once said that everywhere he went it was the first time he had ever been there because he was too embarrassed to go back any place he had ever been before.

Lucius said...

Gopnik raised his kid to be excited enough about Blur, to cross the ocean early to see them?

That little putz is waaaayy out of it.

So-not-cool rearing.

Old Dad said...

My parents were none of the three. My dad was awesome, in the old fashioned sense, and I was afraid of him when he wanted me to be afraid, so I guess he occasionally pissed me off.

When my kids were teens, I was deliberately embarrassing; it's a useful tool. Occasionally annoying is not a strong enough word. I guess I was exasperating. I could be an insufferable bastard when I needed to be. I liked most of my kids' friends, but we did not fraternize. I wanted them to fear me, and I think they did--especially my daughter's male acquaintances.

It's helpful that your children know the hideous things that you might do if they stray, and that they know that you will, without fail, do said atrocities.