One of the most important relationships in my life is with my teenage son, who is becoming increasingly horrified by the awareness that A): I am his mother; and B): everybody who sees us together knows it.
I take great pleasure in this.
Our recent trip to the grocery store was entertaining. There was nowhere for him to hide. I saw people I knew in every single aisle. The kid couldn’t shake me in the crowd. He walked ahead of me so nobody would make the family connection. Fat chance, sunshine.
Don’t you know it’s never safe to let your Ma walk behind you? It makes yelling things like, “Sweetie? Do you want Gold Fish crackers in your lunch pail?” much more fun to yell.
I know my boundaries though. His bedroom is his bunker. It’s a mom-free zone. I totally respect that, mostly out of a well-placed fear of what lies behind that door. Not my problem. Sometimes one must live in one’s own filth to be repulsed by said filth.
All I know is, there is a collection of silverware and dishes in there that are being held against their will. What goes into that room never comes out again, at least not in a way that you’d want it back.
In fact, I feel confident in saying that every time my teen emerges from his bedroom, he has somehow grown another two inches in height. This is life with a 14-year-old male (this column will not make him happy but it may free the silverware and dishes, so I’ll risk it).
As amusing as it is to tease my boy, I respect the fact that he is shy. Thus, I try to limit his public humiliation – try, I said. But since I delivered this future man into the world, I believe it is my duty to cast him out of the shadows every now and then. It’s part character building and part sport, but all fun.
So while he survived the grocery store, I was determined to make the car ride home an experience to remember. And who doesn’t enjoy a sing-along? One guess. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to coax him into becoming a Supreme, so he could back up my Diana Ross. What? Car karaoke is a thing.
The song was Stop in the Name of Love and my request was simple: follow my lead. Palms out when Diana (me) says “stop,” and then wag the index finger when Diana (me) says “Think it over.” And back up my vocals.
Cruel? Yes. Funny? Absolutely.
The boy was not having it. The radio volume got louder. Diana (me) turned the Toyota into the Apollo Theatre. The boy was trapped. Cars passed and he looked like he wanted to be swallowed up by the car.
He would not play along no matter how good my Diana was (and I was totally killing it as a diva).
Apparently, we can take Supreme backup singer off my son’s future career goals. Fine. But he can’t take me off his birth certificate. And while he did crack a smile, he did not emerge from his room for a day.
And that, my friends, is how the Carpenter and I maintain the grocery-shopping budget.
Humiliation is free.