There’s no doubt that having kids is a humbling experience: it starts with a routine cervix exam at your first pregnancy check-up and pretty much peaks with the birth, where you may or may not poo in front of total strangers.
After that, things don’t so much scale down as sort of level out with a steady flow of embarrassing and humiliating scenarios from there-on in.
Here are 10 way kids can embarrass and humiliate you.
1. Repeating what you say, verbatim, out of context, to preschool teachers
I think we’ve all been there. But mine is a doozy.
I’ll give you the context first, because without the context, it sounds really bad.
It was morning, we were racing to get out the door. My newborn twins had kept me up all night. So lack of sleep was a factor.
I needed to get my three-year-old off to preschool and then race back home to take advantage of the morning nap. Within all of this, there was no room for variables. Any variable was going to eat into my nap time. (A variable like say, cleaning up an unholy mess that defied all normal methods of cleaning up.)
I left the room for 10 minutes to dress the babies. While I was gone my three-year-old managed to find the Styrofoam packaging from our recently delivered washing machine and pulverise it. The entire living room was blanketed in Styrofoam snow. It was like there had been an indoor blizzard. And in my abject horror, what came out of my mouth was this:
“You little sh**.”
I know. Really bad. But in my defence I didn’t shout it, I just stated it as a matter of fact. Anyway, there was no time for retribution (other than the verbal abuse). So off we went to preschool. Fast forward to six hours later when I went to pick little Mr Butter-Wouldn’t-Melt-In-His-Mouth up. Whereupon the preschool teacher took me aside and told me that Max had walked up to her at one point in the day and said, simply,
“I’m a little sh**.”
2. Poo their nappy in an inappropriate setting
When small kids are still in nappies, they’re just pooing on the run. They don’t get a sense that perhaps it’s something that needs to be done in private, because the receptacle is just attached to them for their own convenience and they assume it’s their right to simply relieve themselves wherever, whenever.
So you might get say, a 14 month old bracing against a sculpture in a beautiful public sculpture garden and doing the ‘I’m about to burst a blood vessel’ pushing face as people are trying to enjoy the tranquil art-infused ambience.
3. Poos in places poos should not be deposited
Toilet training is a mercurial mistress and there are inevitably the ones that get away.
I’ll just say this: it’s one thing to poo in a public swimming pool. But it’s completely another to shout at the top of your lungs across the entire swim centre:
“I’ve done a poo!!!!”
This is the point in your life where you become the family who ruins the day for everyone as the pool goes into CODE BROWN LOCK DOWN.
A friend of mine has had to scoop a poo out of an indoor play centre ball pit. WITH HER HAND. To clarify, not her poo, her kid’s.
4. Falsely identifying you as a slave trade enthusiast or any such other undesirable affiliation
This is also done by repeating things you say, out of context but without the wry flippancy of the original content.
Let me give you an example:
Every Friday I used to take my kids to the corner store for an ice block. The man behind the counter was Chinese. And so, we all came to know the shop as, “The Chinese Man Shop.” You could call it lazy, casual racism but to us, it was just a way of differentiating that corner shop from the one with the grumpy lady in it, which we called, “The Grumpy Lady Shop.” So imagine my surprise when I went to pick up my six-year-old twins and there they were, loudly telling the teacher that we were all going to “The Chinese Man Shop” that afternoon.
Which made it sound like we were old world Roman imperialists, off to purchase a Chinese man.
5. Displaying early anti-establishment tendencies
From kindergarten orientation day to the classroom itself, some kids just insist on exercising their individual rights to freedom of expression very early on. This is great, but there are some parts of life where it’s easier for Mum if you just go with the herd.
For example: my youngest child, Henry, was not a big fan of kindergarten orientation day and in the middle of a group singing activity he opted instead to do some laps of the hall. He stood up and started running around and around the singing group in demented, taunting laps of the compliant singing sheep.
What to do? Do I give chase and try to catch him? I opted to wait it out.
The teachers decided otherwise.
It started with Mrs Favotto and then when she wasn’t gaining any ground, the vice principal Mrs Porter joined the conga line too. So now Henry’s running around and around the edge of the hall, with two teachers tailing him while all the other children sing Purple People Eater. And for some reason, I found this really humiliating and started to cry. (I still don’t know why I cried, I think it was because I felt ‘judged’ for not going after him myself and just standing there.)
6. Re-enacting your road rage
While you may have many admirable ways of conducting yourself, your particular brand of road rage will be the thing your child most perfectly emulates.
For example: I used to have an unreliable Corolla hatchback. It was touch and go in the mornings, whether or not it would start. And every other morning, when I was in a hurry and had to be somewhere, of course, the car would not start. In my frustration I would stomp my foot on the floor of the car and say:
“F*** it, f*** it, f*** it.”
(Don’t judge me, it was really frustrating.) At this point I had one child and he was only 18 months old. He was just pre-verbal so I hadn’t yet experienced the “parrot” effect.
Then one morning I did. Outside Coles on one of those coin-operated Wiggles cars. Max clambers into the car and with a big smile on his face, stomps his foot on the floor and goes:
“F*** it, f*** it, f*** it!”
I have to admit, apart from the smile, the impersonation was pitch perfect.
7. Giving away family secrets in art class portraits
Sometimes they just draw you as a giant giggamonster looming menacingly over the rest of the family and sometimes they do weird stuff with your hair or your boobs.
A friend of mine was outed as a nudist’s wife.
She turned up to ‘come to the classroom day’ and was happily admiring all the artwork strung around the classroom when she came upon a family portrait by her own son. In the portrait “Dad” was depicted naked but for what can only be described as, a giant pair of fur underpants. To be clear: everyone else in the family was depicted fully clothed. So the nudity was notable.
Now, I don’t really know what goes on in their house behind closed doors, but she was quite adamant that her husband does not walk around the house nude, with his bush out.
8. Reporting the weekend’s activities in school journals
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when asked to report the weekend’s activities in a school journal, your child will write at length, not about the wonderful educational outing to the maritime museum but about going to KFC or McDonalds for dinner.
Honestly, we went to KFC one time. ONE TIME!
9. Exposing you in public
Whether they’re tugging on your pants so hard that your pants fall down or stepping on the hem of a long dress so that you accidentally step out of it, there really are a myriad of ways your kids can expose your private bits in public without warning.
My middle child showed an early aptitude, swiping his chubby little toddler hand down the front of my press-stud buttoned shirt so that it flew open like a scene out of Benny Hill. Oh and of course it was in the school playground at peak school pick-up hour.
10. Reporting what you say about your mother-in-law to your mother-in-law
Note to mothers: children are double agents when it comes to your mother-in-law.
I didn’t take my husband’s surname when I married. But my mother-in-law clearly wished I had. Because she was constantly, CONSTANTLY sending things in the post addressed to ‘Penny Newton’. It irked me, but it wasn’t a big deal until she sent through a cheque (for kids’ Christmas presents because she was interstate and it was easier for me to buy them) and made it out to Penny Newton. I finally cracked. “I’ve told her THERE IS NO PENNY NEWTON!” I raged, under my breath (or so I thought.)
Of course, when Nanna arrived for Christmas, Max dutifully reported to her that I ‘really didn’t like it’ when she called me Penny Newton. AWKS.
Lucky we love them so much!