There are turning points in the lives of parents that are wished for with the fury of a thousand suns.
These are moments that promise to make your life easier, or maybe just signify a new stage in your children’s lives.
For example, a sweet friend of mine recently lamented to Facebook that she would be happy if she could just drink her coffee while it’s hot and stay in the shower until the hot water runs out. Obviously this is a mother of very young children who wonders if she will ever go more than three minutes without someone touching her.
Since I am slightly ahead of her in the parenting game, I assured her that one day, she will drink lukewarm coffee. But she might want to give up on that whole long shower bit.
There are some such changes that are the same and are obvious to everyone: sleeping through the night, potty training, starting school, driving. And then there are those that are a little more nuanced. I had one such revelation on a recent road trip.
As we drove home to visit my family for the holidays, we needed to entertain ourselves between movies. Usually this means the five of us take turns choosing songs to listen to and sing along with. When it was Hubby’s turn, he started laughing as he typed his song in the Spotify search bar.
A few moments later, the sultry first notes of Boyz-II-Men’s On Bended Knee rang through the minivan. The children all complained that “this is a terrible song, we don’ t know the words, WAH …” In response, Hubby and I decided to show them what an incredible composition they had the privilege of hearing by doing a dramatic and soulful performance along with the Boyz, or Men — whoever they are now.
There was loud singing. There were fake microphones. There was bottom-lip-biting, and staring into the distance while grasping each other’s shirts. We sang to each other, we sang to the passing cars. (Do not try this in your own car. It is highly dangerous, and possibly illegal.)
And here, friends, is where the magical moment happened. My sweet Lu, at age eight, is finally… EMBARRASSED OF HER PARENTS. That’s right. This is a very proud and hopeful moment for me.
You see, I’ve been getting some sass from my big girl recently, and my most effective disciplinary tool has been taking away toys. NOT ANY MORE. My own mother is an evil genius who figured out that embarrassment is an incredible weapon against sassy children if used appropriately.
When Hubby and I were putting on our amazing performance, Lu’s mouth dropped open, her eyes widened, and she slowly covered her face with her hands and refused to look back up until the song was over. And there was no one in the car except our family! Can you imagine how effective this will be when her peers are around?!?!
I can truthfully say that at least 50% of my motivation to stay out of trouble in my teen years was a result of my mom’s creative discipline. You never knew what she might do if you got out of line. It wouldn’t have surprised me in the least if she had shown up at my high school in bath robe, rollers and face cream (despite the fact that she never wore any of those things) to correct any behavior problems.
My road trip musical performance was my official welcome into the club. I dream of dancing in public, maybe picking my nose a little too obviously and baby-talking my kids in front of their friends. And those are just to demonstrate my power … just imagine all I could do when they actually get in trouble!
With the help of my mentor evil genius (Hi Mom!), I am sure to rise to the rank of terrifying mother in no time!
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Overheard at the salon: “While my folks were in town, I had to sneak out to meet my friends like some sort of teen delinquent.”
Julie Holt is a wife, mother of three, hair stylist, runner, reader, writer, and is tired. Very tired. She works in Brentwood, lives in Spring Hill and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Julie on Twitter @jh_lighter_side.