After a particularly harrowing experience for my then fist-grader during a school concert experience (that I’ve sworn never to repeat, especially in print), I attempted to cheer her up. I sat on the edge of her bed tying to curb the flow of tears with motherly comfort and ageless wisdom. “Everyone makes mistakes,” I told her. “People will forget all about it as soon as the next person flubs up.” “Did anything like this ever happen to you when you were a kid,” she asked, drying her eyes and looking up at me expectantly.
As I sat calmly, my mind raced over the many embarrassing moments in my life, trying to come up with something comparable and first-grade-age appropriate. I needed something to share, and fast. But, in spite of my multitude of embarrassments throughout the years, the examples at the top of my mind were my most recent faux pas like when I failed to notice my zipper was down during a recent story interview, or momentarily blanking on a friend’s name right in the middle of introducing them to another friend. It was nothing earth shattering, but embarrassing, nonetheless. But still, I needed to go further back. My daughter was counting on me to dig deep.
Off the top of my head, I told her about when I was eight-months pregnant and projectile-vomited in a public restroom. I then reminded her how challenging it was to keep she and her sister from hiding in the racks at clothing stores and jumping out to startle unsuspecting, usually elderly shoppers. Now, at least, I think she understands my reticence to take them shopping. Then, it finally hit me — a way-back moment from first grade.
Back in the day, everyone wore uniforms at the Catholic grade school I attended. Stiff woolen jumpers and short-sleeved white cotton blouses underneath, with knee-high socks in the warmer months, and cable-knit tights in cold weather. Well, unless the nuns were especially vigilant after restroom breaks, some poor first-grader would end up with the back of her jumper tucked inside her tights, giving classmates a first-class view of their tights-clad backside.
Yes, I was that unsuspecting first-grader on at least one occasion. In hindsight (no pun intended), you’d think the draft would have been a dead give-away. But, I survived and today my daughter felt a little better about her own situation because of it.
It really is true – you WILL laugh about those embarrassing moments later in life. And, if you’re really lucky, one of those moments might just help your kids learn to live through their latest crisis du jour.