I have been shunned. Having kids, especially one approaching the teen years, I knew it was inevitable but that doesn't make it any more pleasant. See, Howdy's 13th birthday is quickly approaching. He doesn't have much of a social life, has never invited any kids over. Most of his free time is spent at Chess Club. He goes to school early 4 days a week and stays after 2 afternoons a week just to hang out with his fellow Chess enthusiasts. It just so happens that his birthday falls on an afternoon Chess day. I got the brilliant idea of bringing a cake and some snacks to school and sharing his birthday with his classmates. I wasn't going to sing to the kid or embarass him by making everyone wear party hats or anything but I was still a little unsure if it was a great idea like I thought. MC suggested I seek wise council on the matter and so I did what I always do when faced with indecision and a need for sound advice--I posted on FB. The overwhelming response was to just talk to Howdy about it and see what he wanted. The kind of takes the surprise out of the whole thing but it's his day and I don't want to do anything to permanently scar him or make him a social pariah for the rest of his middle school career.
I took the advice and asked Howdy if he'd like me to bring a cake to Chess club. If not a cake, maybe some sodas and chips? I made it clear that I didn't want to do anything to embarrass him and that, if he wanted, I could even bring the cake up to the school and drop it off (After all, I am a cool, understanding mom who knows that parents aren't always welcome. Although as I said that I was silently begging that he wouldn't take me up on that offer since I didn't really mean it). He thought about it for a moment and then decided that he supposed it would be alright for me to drop off some sodas--no cake-for the kids to enjoy but I had to drop it off early and not stay.
What?! Seriously? I'm not allowed to stay to help my own kid celebrate his birthday? I mean, I know kids don't think their parents are cool and middle schoolers don't choose to hang out with their parents but...but...but I'm FUN!
I will admit, I have my moments, but I try to limit them to the privacy of our own home where I know his friends won't see me. Have you seen any of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies? Mrs. Heffley is the Wimpy Kid's (Greg) mom. She likes to think she's in tune with her kids and is very interested in their lives. In the second movie, she embarrasses Greg by asking if a particular girl is his girlfriend, even commenting, "She's super cute!" I will admit to having an almost identical conversation with Howdy in my attempt to keep the communication lines open. But I don't say those things where his friends can overhear. I don't shout, "I love you, sweetie!" when I drop him off to school, I don't hug him in public, I don't make him a lunch that has a little napkin note in it like I do for the other two. I bought him a new belt even though his other one was perfectly fine because I wanted him to feel "cool" at his new school. We compare books and enjoy some of the same movies and music. He tells me all about the things that happen at school. In the evenings, we play games, wrestle and goof off. When I was out of town, he found excuses to stay on the phone with me. To paraphrase Sally Field, "He likes me! He really likes me!"
But in the end, I am still just a mom. And his mom at that. It might be okay to think your friends' parents are cool, but never your own. I know that one firsthand. All my friends thought my parents were the coolest but I didn't. They were simply...my parents. So while it might be okay for Howdy to enjoy a movie, engage in a sock fight, or share the latest middle school happenings with me, our time together is limited to the home. It breaks my heart because, in my mind, he is still my chunky-cheeked baby. I know he's only a few inches shorter than me now and he's sprouting wild monkey hair and pimples, but he's still my little man. I'm not ready for him to have a life that doesn't include me.