It's an irrefutable truth that...stuff...changes as you get older. Some of these alterations are inevitable with the passing of time--you know what I'm talking about: the physical and mental differences that on any given day can pretty much go either way on the positive/negative scale (Yay, increased wisdom and a rich array of life experiences! Boo, aches and pains, and short-term memory loss. Now, what was my point? Ha! Kidding...mostly...)
But one thing that I've noticed in the last few years is that there are some "issues" that I tend not to take as seriously anymore. For example, I used to be one of those women who wouldn't dream of leaving the house without makeup. Let me be clear--it wasn't because I was just THAT concerned with trying to impress the world-at-large (such as, you know, the grocery store). It's just that I felt less...self-conscious...once I'd done my best to at least conceal the ever-present dark circles and splash some color onto my pasty Irish cheeks.
These days...I just don't care as much. Oh, don't get me wrong, I haven't discovered some miracle solution that allows me to appear well-rested and glowing. (Dang it! If you know of one, please share!) Nope, I'm still rocking the tired, pale...Midlife Mom look (NOT highly sought after...unless it's for one of those "Modern Makeover" articles in a women's magazine), but I finally accepted that--whattya know--the Earth keeps turning, regardless...and besides, everybody else is probably too busy with their own agenda to notice whether I took the time to put myself together that morning before rushing out of the house anyway.
So, why am I bringing this up? Well, the upside of my new knowledge, of course, is that it's very freeing to stop worrying about that kind of inconsequential nonsense. But the even bigger payoff is: the opportunity to mortify your children. (As is your God-given right as a parent. It's in the Bible; you can look it up. Okay, okay, put down the King James--I might have just made up that part. But it's like...a corollary to the whole Honor thy Father and Mother commandment, right? C'mon: "Thou shalt be permitted to keep thy offspring in line by embarrassing them if necessary." Maybe it's implied...or...maybe it's just me...)
Anyway, a recent example: I was preparing to go out into the neighborhood for a run. Now, keep in mind that I'm planning to exercise...and therefore I could not care less what I look like while I get all sweaty. So I have attired myself appropriately for my activity; that is, with my wide, stretchy headband (to secure the wayward bangs); bermuda-length cargo shorts made out of a light, water-resistant material that holds up well to both weather and perspiration (and with pockets that stow the proper number of tissues (2) required for my nose, which has a tendency to run when I do); a nylon/lycra athletic t-shirt; my orange headphones to provide the tunes; and for the final coup de...fashion nightmare...my knee-high, fluorescent green compression socks.
I must admit, here, that the overall...um "festivity"....of my outfit was enhanced exponentially by the fact that nothing I had put on matched any other piece. Yep, I was a regular old...riot of running gear, I tell ya. When I came down to the kitchen to grab my shoes and go, Derek caught sight of me and stopped dead in his tracks. His mouth fell open. His eyes bugged. And as he shook his head in utter dismay, he managed to choke out, "What. Are. You. WEARING?" I looked down at my....all right, it was fairly nauseating...ensemble...and shot back defiantly, "I'm comfortable! And I'm going to work out!" He sighed, took a quick peek out the window, and asked hopefully,"Can you wait until it's almost dark?" When I just glared at him, he gave up and muttered resignedly, "Well, I hope you don't pass anyone I know..." (Mwah hah hah...one son down, one to go!)
Then I got my chance with Riley a couple of days ago, when I signed up to volunteer at his cross-country meet as a Course Monitor. (Or, more descriptively "Glorified Traffic Cone"...but whatever, it's all for the KIDS, right?) I fortunately remembered to warn--um "inform"--Riley ahead of time that I would be performing this valuable service for his team. I'm not quite sure what kind of reaction I was expecting...gratitude, maybe? Recognition for the support and the donation of my time? (Yeah, silly me...)
Still, I was a bit taken aback by the severe expression on his face when my darling child responded in a harsh tone, "Fine, Mom." (Oh....kay. What the heck?) He continued after a pause, "You can say 'hi', and I'll say 'hi'. You can wave, and I'll wave back." Gee...thanks? Here his voice took on even more vehemence, and he looked me firmly in the eye as he delivered the final proclamation, "But NO 'honey'. NO 'sweetie'. NO,,, 'PUMPKIN'! Got it?" Ohhhhhhhh! So that's what was getting his knickers all in a twist. I hastily promised him that I would stick to the acceptable, "Buddy" when in the general vicinity of his teammates (which include those most magical of creatures..."girls"...so I can only assume that's part of the concern he feels about this sensitive topic) and he calmed down.
On meet day, I made sure to be on my best behavior: "This way, around the bleachers, ladies. Way to go, guys, keep it up, you're doing great!" and similar encouraging yet non-targeted cheers. I must have performed satisfactorily, because afterwards, I was rewarded with a hug from my muddy, damp trail-tackler. So there you have it. I sense that there are suddenly more...rules...than there used to be, for how parental-type-people are expected to comport themselves around the adolescent crew.
Eh, who am I trying to fool? I'm gonna continue to dress however I choose, and if I accidentally slip up and call one of MY OWN CHILDREN 'sweetie' in front of their peers, they'll learn a valuable lesson like I did: that life goes on...and after, oh, 20 seconds or so (the approximate attention span of a young pre-adult male) nobody gives a flying fig. Then I'll have to up my game and figure out new ways to excel at Torture the Teenagers...what? I'm joking! (Mostly...)