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Published May 27, 2013, 11:35 PM

Parenting Perspectives: It’s children’s goal to make parents squirm

All right, parents, buckle up. Shane’s about to drop some truth on you. Ready? OK: It is your child’s goal to make you look like an idiot.

All right, parents, buckle up. Shane’s about to drop some truth on you.


OK: It is your child’s goal to make you look like an idiot.

Now, I don’t know why. It’s like when you see some senseless act of violence on the news and ask yourself, “Why? Who gains from this?” Whether driven by some megalomaniacal impulse or extraterrestrial force, I can’t say. But kids want us to look bad.

As a case in point, about two weeks ago one of my 8-year-old twin daughters just generally wasn’t feeling good. She was shivering, but she said she didn’t feel cold. Thinking she might be dehydrated, we got some Gatorade and water in her and she smoothed out. But, in the days following that episode, it seemed that she was thirsty an awful lot. Unusual thirst can be a symptom of diabetes so that concerned me.

There were also complaints of tummy troubles, a stuffy nose and one particularly unusual condition. Her epiglottis (that little hunk of meat that hangs down in the back of your mouth) was noticeably curved. You know, you don’t feel silly about telling a doctor, “Oh, little Tommy’s been throwing up” or “Little Jane has a fever.” But I wasn’t looking forward to trying to explain to the doctor that I brought my daughter in because she’s thirsty and has a curly epiglottis. Could I just get some normal, run-of-the-mill symptoms? (Well, played, Ariana.)

At the clinic, they looked her over, drew blood, took a urine sample – and nothing serious appears to have turned up. (They do want us to keep an eye on the epiglottis.)

Now, look, I don’t want my child to have a horrible illness, but if you’re going to have strange, nondescript symptoms, could you have the decency to at least have a mild form of some rare, exotic disease or something so I don’t have discussions about a curly epiglottis with trained medical professionals for nothing? You know, just so I don’t feel so stupid about the thing? Is that really too much to ask?

Not all children’s efforts to cast you in a foolish light are so premeditated. Children are quite opportunistic. For example, the other day my wife was shopping with my daughters and said of a particular item of clothing, “Oh, this won’t work because this is size 6X.”

To which Ariana replied, “Did you just say ‘sex’?”

Other patrons heard and laughed. Again, well played, Ariana. Well played. (Insert slow, sarcastic clap).

Even this morning, in late May, my son donned his mittens and his winter hat to go to preschool. He doesn’t care that I’m going to look stupid walking around with a kid in winter clothes in the spring. No, wait – he does care. It’s what he wants!

There’s a yet darker side to this realization that kids are out to make us look foolish. It is the accompanying realization that when parents embarrass their kids by dancing too much at a party they’re chaperoning or call their kids’ friends “dude” or whatever, it’s no accident. It’s intentional. It’s payback. And I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Recently, fellow “Parenting Perspectives” columnist Tracy Briggs posted on Facebook that her fifth-grader told her and her husband that it was, “OK if we come cheer her on when she does the mile run today at school. But ... ‘just don’t be embarrassing about it.’”

My reply?

“Yeah, I’m sure she never embarrassed you in public. ‘Say ... do you remember that time you vomited on me at that really nice restaurant – in front of my boss – twice? Yeah, I’ll be cheering however I want.’”

Be patient parents; our day is coming.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734