Dealing with Dad means embracing embarrassment

Posted on May 25, 2011


OK, son, listen up. I got a comment on the blog the other day from a long-time friend. You, on the other hand, have not yet commented once. I’m not mad because I suspect that you have yet to figure out how to hack your way around the parental controls on your computer. At some point, when you get tired of being unable to view anything more threatening than Dora the Explorer, I’m sure you’ll invest the time and energy required to figure it out.

The other reason you haven’t commented may be that you’re embarrassed to have anything to do with me. Fair enough. I’m kind of embarrassed to be seen with me too. If that’s not the case for you now, it will be soon.

And when it kicks in, it will define our relationship for the rest of our lives (give or take an occasional bonding moment over porn or something). So it makes sense to spend a bit of time now on the whole me-embarrassing-you thing.

One thing you need to know is that there is a specific gene in parents that is programmed to fire up about the same time their kids begin puberty. It’s probably triggered when we detect all those pheromones you’ll start oozing. The gene is related to the one that causes parents to hide the car keys and lock the liquor cabinet, but this one causes the following involuntary reflexes:

  • Being within view of all your friends, or anyone with the power to make your life miserable in middle school, will trigger an attempt by me and mom to hug you in public. 


  • I’ll come to your middle school on your birthday and surprise you by singing Happy Birthday over the intercom. 


  • I will watch MTV when you aren’t around hoping that it will help me actually have a conversation with you about, well, anything. After I incorrectly use the words “skank” and “diss” in front of your friends, you’ll stop inviting your buddies over and avoid leaving me alone in a room with any of them. 


  • I’ll volunteer to chaperone your prom but not tell you, thinking how surprised and happy you’ll be to see me there. 


  • I’ll assume you’re just being nice and trying to save me time when in middle school you tell me I don’t have to leave notes in your lunch bag any more. I’ll be so touched by your thoughtfulness that I’ll resolve to leave you notes right through high school. 


  • Thinking I’m doing you a favor, I’ll tell the girl you’re doing homework with that you think she’s hot (come on, you know that having my genes means you’ll never tell her yourself). How could I know she’s got a crush on you and you’re just being nice to her because she’s good at math? You’ll be forced to date her for a month in order to get through your final exams before breaking up. 


  • I’ll assume that what you loved when you were five, you’ll always love. This will apply to everything from Spider-Man pajamas to back scratches under your shirt in front of your friends at the mall. This is largely triggered by something known in the medical field as the You’ll-Always-Be-My-Little-Boy gene. 


  • I’ll take you out for a daddy-son dinner and surprise you with matching I Heart My Dad and I Heart My Son hats. You’ll wear yours only that one time and refuse to hand the menu back to the waiter after ordering. I, on the other hand, will wear mine every chance I get. 


  • I’ll worry. A lot. To be honest, that might be more of a Jewish thing than genetics. Either way, it means that I’m likely to pop over unannounced to your apartment at 11:00 on a Saturday night if you don’t answer your phone by the third ring. Even after that, I’ll still not quite understand why you felt the need to go to college all the way on the other side of the country.


  • I’ll make random references in public forums about bonding with you over porn like somehow that makes me cool, when in fact I’ve never really been able to sit through a full flick. That’s because the only thing that gets aroused in me upon seeing it is an intense feeling of total inadequacy.


I know it all sounds pretty fatalistic, but isn’t it nice to know about it now so you can prepare?

And I’ll just hang on to this post because in about 35 years, you’re going to want to give it to your kid.