“Okay, mom, please stop,” begged my preteen daughter Meg. I was simply trying to bust some moves I learned in my hip hop class at the gym. I thought I looked magnificent. She, on the other hand, was mortified. She rolled her eyes as if to say, “You are so not cool, mother!”
Oh, how I long for the days when I could do no wrong! I used to be their hero. Their faces used to light up when I walked in the room. They used to be wiling to hold my hand as we approached their group of friends. They wore outfits I chose for them and put on shoes I purchased for them without any hesitation. They would beg me to come volunteer in their classrooms.
If I liked a song, they liked that song. Today, if I like a song, then that would be reason enough render it unacceptable and in bad taste. It would take repeated listening of that tune on the Top 40 radio station to change their minds.
Basically, I’m sensing my power of influence slowly slipping away.
As much as I wish for our kids to become independent and to fully embrace adulthood, I wish that we parents wouldn’t have to be relegated to the “Completely Irrelevant and Dorky” pile along with their discarded books, shoes, and fashion. Can’t we remain cool, even just for a few more years?
Okay, I admit that I didn’t think my parents were very cool when I was a teenager. My dad used to listen to AM news radio in the car! Add to that the fact that my parents were immigrants and didn’t know a thing about American high school culture. This teenager hoped everyday to wake up and find Mr. and Mrs. Brady as parents.
I now take back every sinister thought I had about my own parents during my own teenage years. Maybe they actually were quite with it, as my friend Carol used to tell me. “I just love talking to your dad; he’s so interesting. And your mom is so stylish!” I thought she was talking about someone else. Perhaps we all view others’ parents as being much cooler than our own, and maybe that’s just a part of growing up. I think of moms like Gwen, Reese, Madonna, Pink, and other celebrities who are the epitome of cool. Will even their kids think their mom is a geek once they’re teens?
This past summer, our family headed up once again to a camp in Northern California as we have each summer for the past 10 years — only this year, Josh and Meg each went off to their own youth camps while David and I spent the whole week alone at the main camp for the first time. On the assigned visitation day, we walked up to Meg in the giggling gaggle of junior high girls. “Junko!” several of them squealed as they came running over to me. Many of these girls grew up attending the camp and had become fans of my music as I sang for the children each year. It took Meg a few moments to get past my groupies, but when she did, she gave me a big hug. She showed me around her camp and we enjoyed a nice, hour-long visit.
Meg later told me that some of the girls asked her after I left, “How do you know Junko?”
“Um, she’s my mother,” she replied.
“Oh my gosh! Meg is Junko’s daughter!” they screamed, as Meg stood there wide-eyed. Just for a moment, I might have regained my coolness.
Actually, I am okay with our teenagers questioning our taste in music and fashion, because I’m now a grownup and am strong enough to withstand their (low) opinion of me. Besides, when they’re going through a tough time, they still come running back to me for comfort. At that point, the only thing that matters is that I am still their mommy.
And I think that’s pretty cool.
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What do your teens or preteens think of you as parents? Were your parents cool when you were a teenager? Let me know in the comments below!