Either they are delusional or my husband and I have gotten to the age when everything we say and do actually is completely embarrassing.
I’m inclined to believe that, like most situations, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
I’m also inclined to believe that I inherited the problem from my parents, who were, without a doubt, once the most embarrassing people in America.
When I was my children’s age, my parents wore completely ridiculous clothes. They ate food that was nothing short of weird. And they even expressed opinions that differed from those of my friends’ parents.
Their nonconformity made my life complex, especially since they raised me to believe nonconformity was a positive attribute.
Before I got completely sucked into their paradigm, I took solace in the fact that they might not actually be my biological parents. They were, after all, the first to tell the story about how I was switched at birth.
I was born in a rural Montana hospital where there was no maternity ward because there just weren’t many babies being born. Even the doctor who delivered me had another calling. He was also a cattle rancher who had manure on his boots when I arrived in the world.
Needless to say, there were no identification bracelets or security systems. The odds were simply against having two babies in the tiny hospital at the same time. But, as luck would have it, another baby girl and I beat those odds. We were born during the same 24-hour period.
We were also sent home with the same parents.
My dad was the one who discovered the nurse’s error. The bundle of joy in his arms felt too small, and, once weighed, the nurses agreed. So they replaced the first baby with me.
For years, I held on to the possibility that I had lost weight at the hospital and I actually belonged on a ranch in Montana. Unfortunately, I bore a striking resemblance to both my mother and my father, so the hope was simply a daydream.
My own children don’t even have that daydream. There was plenty of security at the hospital where they were born, and they too look like their parents. They also have similar personalities and behaviors (although they deny this.)
They are simply resigned to the fact that they come from a long line of embarrassing people.
For the moment, I’m doing nothing to dispute that belief.
Last weekend, we attended the Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Salute to Independence” at Antietam Battlefield. My children were joined by friends who found the event a bit lame, particularly during the patriotic sing-along.
As my friend Layne and I clapped and sang at the top of our lungs, our children tried to shrink into the battlefield.
Our behavior may have been embarrassing to them, but we were having a great time.
It’s our reward for having survived our own parents.