Last year I discovered I am the most embarrassing person in the world. This realisation came as somewhat of a shock, as I was living under the delusion I was a "cool" mum. Thankfully, my nine-year-old daughter set me straight. After some serious self-reflection, I have now seen the error of my ways.
In the spirit of helping others, especially parents still new to big school, I will share some of my rookie mistakes:
1) I showed an interest in my child's schooling. At the beginning of each school year I have blatantly approached the teacher, introduced myself and pointed out which child is mine. Sometimes I have offered to help in class. After the early years, this sort of outrageous behaviour may not be appreciated by your child.
Tip: Volunteer when your child is in kindy and s/he welcomes your involvement. After that, you may need to be more discreet. Perhaps wear a disguise.
2) I cheered enthusiastically at sports carnivals. Calling out "go (insert child's name)" will eventually be on par with a minor criminal offence.
Tip: If you attend school events, discreetly let your child see you showed up. After that, make sure you are practically invisible. You must never, ever be heard. Perhaps wear a disguise.
3) I kissed my child within school grounds. Once, I was allowed to kiss my daughter goodbye at the class line. Then, an exclusion zone was imposed that started at the school gates. This was extended to a tree stump 10 metres before the school gate. Now, if I'm lucky, I get a reluctant "bye" as she runs away as fast as possible. Tourist boats are permitted to get closer to migrating whales than I am to my daughter in the school playground.
Tip: Get your affection at home. Act cool on school grounds. Casually say "see ya" and "hi", like you don't even know who that kid is.
4) I once called her a pet name in front of her friends. It's very hard when you have an affectionate name for your child at home, not to slip-up and say that name at school. If you commit this faux pas, you may as well start researching new schools as soon as you get home.
5) I have, on more than one occasion suggested my child remove her jumper on a hot day or put on a jumper on a cold day. Such unsolicited advice is received with the same level of appreciation as a suggestion she dress in a yellow onesie and strut around like a chicken.
Tip: Under no circumstances offer suggestions to your school child in front of their friends. You are no longer the source of all wisdom. Now. You. Know. Nothing.
I try hard to not be an embarrassing parent, but occasionally I indulge in daydreams in which I show my daughter what embarrassing really is. In them, I arrive at school in mismatched pyjamas, give her a big cuddle goodbye, high-five her friends as I sing the school song with gusto, and finish with a dab. In reality, I could never do that. I don't know all the words to the school song.
I can't pinpoint when it was in our school journey that the scales of embarrassment tipped. I find myself longing for the good old days when my kids embarrassed me more than I did them.
Meena Evers is a Sydney mother.