ABC’s of Parenting: “U” is for underwear…on the ceiling fan

What, two “ABC’s” in one week? Well, I’ve been looking forward to this one, so I couldn’t wait.

imageBeing a parent offers many and various opportunities for embarrassment – from slight discomfort, to awkwardness, all the way to “dig a hole, climb in, and never come out.”

I think the more experience we get, the more able we are to turn down the embarrassment factor just a bit. I mean, if the following story were to happen to me today I’d actually get a kick out of it. But as a much younger mom, out to impress the world, being buried alive would have been infinitely preferable.

It had been a long Saturday with our three kids under the age of eight. It had rained all day, and the natives were restless. We’d run through Hot Wheels, Legos, baking brownies, a couple of movies, homemade play-dough, and a long read-aloud session. Teasing, whacking, and screaming were imminent at every moment.

Late in the afternoon, my mother-in-law phoned from a friend’s house, saying they’d like to drop by. Her friend had recently moved back into town and had never met our kids.

Mentally I inventoried the disaster area every room had become over the course of the rainy day. If we could get the kids to help out and we all worked at fever-pitch, we could have the place JUST tidy enough by the time Grandma and her friend arrived. Of course, it would require bribery…and The Husband and I had pretty much worn out our repertoire of carrots on a stick for one day…but the promise of a McDonald’s with a playland for dinner did the trick.

We dashed around like maniacs, shoving large toys and overflowing laundry baskets behind closed doors. We even had a few moments to spare to put on presentable clothes before Grandma’s car pulled into the driveway.

Congratulating everyone on the teamwork, I shoved The Husband and the kids to the front door as greeters while I made a quick pitcher of lemonade in the kitchen to serve to our guests. As they said their hellos and took off dripping rain coats (and plastic rain bonnets – these were old ladies, remember) I joined them in the living room.

And stopped cold in my tracks.

Most of the living room was neat and tidy, yes. But hanging from a blade of the ceiling fan was a pair of The Boy’s tighty whities. Well, they were briefs, but rather than white they were red, yellow and blue. Nice and bright. And on display in all their glory. How, exactly, they got there I never determined. Honestly, the way the day had gone I don’t know why I was surprised.

Did I mention that Grandma doesn’t have much of a sense of humor? Or that – in her mind, at least – she was the world’s best mother and all-time best housekeeper? I reference the time our oldest at age two spilled a bit of milk on her carpet. When I asked where she kept the rug spot-cleaner, the answer I received was,  “I don’t spill things on my carpet.” Nice.

Not a word was said about the ceiling fan decoration. But I definitely saw some looks of distaste thrown about. I just sat there, waiting for my MIL’s queenly prounouncement of “We are not amused,” and squirmed until they were gone.

It could have been worse, I guess. It could have been my underwear The Boy had chosen to do target practice with. That fact did not occur to me at the time however.

The moral of this story: Children are born with the innate ability to create chaos. They top this ability only with their propensity for creating extreme embarrassment.

Accept this fact early on. Embrace it. Laugh it off. Life will be a lot more fun if you can, I promise.

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