GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: A guide to driving your kids nuts

By on May 19, 2015
This is my husband, in 1999, at a University of Minnesota football game. He was without shame and embarrassed everybody. PHOTO: JEAN WEBBER

This is my husband, in 1999, at a University of Minnesota football game. He was without shame and embarrassed everybody. PHOTO: JEAN WEBBER

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Once upon a time, one of my darlings asked me if it was olden times when I was a child. I told her to go play in traffic. Then she wanted to know if they had Christmas when I was little and I had to admit that we didn’t, but the Virgin Mary was in my gym class. So after studying the American presidents, my kids informed me  that Grover Cleveland was president when I was born.

You have to realize that children appear on this earth to destroy their parents’ self-worth. Kids assume that they just appeared, dropping out of a tree like an apple, or floating down the Nile River like Moses. One look at their families and children are convinced they were abandoned on a doorstep and Beyonce is really their mother.

Therefore, I am pleased to inform you that since there is nothing more horrifying to children than their parents’ presence, there are a multitude of proven ways to embarrass your children and it doesn’t matter how old they are — would you want your mother to show up?

As my children were growing up, I managed to achieve the absolute pinnacle of embarrassing behavior. I became a lunch room lady at their elementary school and I was there for years. I am still remembered for being mean and fiendish. I would sneak up on kids misbehaving, grab them by the back of the neck and hiss in their ears “not to do that ever again.” I threw one kid’s lunch out because he called me “Hey, you,” and I told him it was not my name. He agreed. My children must have been mortified and it did them a world of good.

I have some more skin-crawling suggestions and the lunchroom is a good place to start. Nowadays, you could text or phone your child while he eats, you could drop by his school and watch him eat and make sure he cleans his plate. By the way, that healthful, organic lunch you sent to school – the one with the inspiring note on heart-shaped paper – will be tossed in the garbage and your child will eat someone’s potato chips while his friends will double over with laughter at the note. As a former lunch lady, I can guarantee that.

Failing that, if your child is in a play or recital, why not show up with all the relatives and sit in the front row waving and making a spectacle of yourselves? If she has a job, show up and follow her around and be sure to tell her boss how great she is. There is no age limit on this. If he needs a ride, drive him right to the door and wave at all his friends. He may have requested that you drop him off a couple of blocks away, but don’t. It will give you no satisfaction.

Here is another one: if your child has really cool friends you, by contrast, must be uncool. Show up looking like the Beverly Hillbillies and call your child by all kinds of cute names. This works at any age. My mother was so horrifying in her old age we could not take her anywhere. I have been getting those looks from my children, for some time actually.

Remember, you are the parent and you have the right to make your children pay for it. If you do your job well, they will learn from you and drive their own kids nuts. That is nature’s way.

Jean Webber is a longtime Jackson resident, grandma and storyteller. Got a topic you would like our resident grandma to address, email [email protected]

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