Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reverting Back To Adolescence? Oh, great.

They say you can never go home.  I don't know who "they" are, but that's what "they" say.  They say it's impossible to go back to your childhood home and feel the same way you felt growing up.  That the nostalgia you feel is for something that never quite existed.

Well I call shenanigans.

A friend of mine from college was visiting family and friends in the area recently, and we met for dinner with a mutual friend.  That afternoon the two of them had been hanging out at one of their childhood homes.  My friend told me that she felt the same embarrassment with her mom trying to be the "cool mom" now as she did when we were teenagers.

This post took twice as long to write as it should have because I kept getting distracted by this GIF.
I thought that was kind of interesting, because I've experienced a similar feeling for years!  Don't get me wrong.  I love my parents.  They're hardworking people with good hearts.  They raised my brother and me to be intelligent, independent, creative, and funny.  They provided everything we needed as kids and then some.  They're a good example for relationships (celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary next week!).  I knew this as a teenager, though I scarcely understood how to appreciate it, and I know this now.  I have a great relationship with my parents and talk to them on the phone multiple times per week.  But something strange happens when I'm around them and other people I know at the same time.  Inevitably I revert back to being a pain-in-the-ass 17 year old.  I cringe at every interaction my parents have with anyone I've ever talked to ever.  I'm ridiculous.

For example, last month I was visiting my friend in Chicago and decided to stop in my hometown and have lunch with my mom.  We went to a local cafe and settled on a table near the front.  Just as our orders arrived, a couple entered the cafe.  The husband and wife are both retired teachers from the schools I attended.  They stopped at our table, and I was pleasantly surprised that they remembered me.  We chatter for a couple of minutes, and they went to place their orders.  As they sat down at their own table, I mentioned to my mom that they were two of the best teachers I ever had growing up.  

I had the wife for 6th & 7th grade social studies.  She was a great teacher and a sweet lady whom I loved, despite the fact that she gave me my first and only detention ever.  He was a hard-ass high school math teacher who took the time to reteach me everything I was supposed to learn in 8th grade Algebra I in order to pass his HS Algebra II class.  He was widely known throughout the school to be one of the toughest teachers, but we all knew he had a heart of gold.  He taught for more than 30 years, I think, and he really cared about educating the kids in his class.  As far as husband/wife teacher teams in my hometown go, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a more beloved couple from that time period.

Anyway, as we wrapped up our lunch, my mom went back up to the counter for some reason.   As she made her way back to our table, I watched in horror as she stopped at the couple's table, and said (loud enough for the entire cafe to hear), "My daughter just told me that you guys were two of the best teachers she ever had in this town."  They were very gracious, of course, because I'm sure they've heard that before, and also, who doesn't like to hear nice things about themselves?  I, however, slunk down into my chair like a teenage boy with scoliosis and became even more engrossed with checking Twitter on my phone as my face turned scarlet from embarrassment.

My mother moseyed back to the table with a smile on her face; she was pleased with herself.  As she approached, I hissed at her, "Moooooooooommmmmmm! What were you thinking?!  Why would you do that?!"  

She was confused by my humiliation.  "What?  I thought they would like to hear the nice things you had to say about them."

"I understand that, but why did you have to do it while I was sitting within earshot?!  God, that's so embarrassing!"  I whispered.  Clearly this was a disaster.  Clearly.  

Now, I know that it was not, in fact, a disaster.  And my former teachers probably were touched that I mentioned them to my mom.  But at that moment in time, it was like being transported back to freshman year of high school, and having my mom tell a boy I had a crush on that I liked him.  (That actually never happened in real life, but I can imagine how humiliating it would be.)

Having dinner with my friends last week, and hearing their versions of the same stories about their own mothers, made me feel both better and worse.  Better because I'm not the only one who has such a strong reaction to my parents unwittingly embarrassing me.  Worse, because this is my life?!  A grown-ass woman acting like an obnoxious teenager any time my parents interact with anyone from my past in my presence?  Boo.

I have no resolution to this situation.  I fear I am doomed to behave like a surly adolescent in public with my parents for the rest of my life.  That's not a particularly attractive proposition for me.  So tell me, how do you overcome these feelings?

1 comment:

  1. It doesn't ever end. :) I say this as a 40-something who went to Hawaii with her family about 6 years ago and was instantly transformed into a jealous sibling, a whiny teenager, and a homesick (missing Brian) mess. I'm older than you, so I'll let you know if it ever settles down, but I have my doubts!