I’ve realized lately how uncool I am.
At least, that’s what my kids tell me. And it’s probably very uncool of me to write this in a blog and reference them. More strikes against me.
It’s funny how long we run this race toward acceptance. We come into the world without concern for what we look like, who likes us, or whether we’re in the right clique.
Babies cry when they need something and either someone responds or they don’t. And that sets them on one course or another.
Toddlers explore their worlds but are pretty self-focused, and then they grow into school age children who arrive to Kindergarten focused on the self and usually experience the rude awakening of peer judgment and unfair play.
Of course, stealing blocks or toy cars on the carpet circle is a far cry from what happens as they get older and peer acceptance starts to matter more.
And then middle school hits, and everything is about the group you’re in, your clothes, hair, makeup, and your reputation, apparently, and whatever you thought about yourself before no longer matters because now it’s about what others think about you.
That colors life for the longest time.
High school continues the process of worrying about where you fit, what others think, whether you’re popular or cool or not.
I thought when I got to college that it wouldn’t matter anymore, and really it did not. On the outside.
Inside, the little voice still spoke to me about whether I was good enough, cool enough.
And we spend our adult years trying to banish the voice.
Until we become parents and see ourselves reflected in our children’s eyes. For so many years, I was the center of their universes.
I could do no wrong. Everything I said or did was wonderful, and they always wanted to be by my side.
My two eldest children still love me dearly, but that’s usually reserved for private domain. In public, at least when anyone they might know is nearby, I am to keep my distance.
I never know whether what I say or do or wear will offend. And just like that, my coolness is under the microscope.
They’ve corrected my word choice, and questioned my knowledge. (Thanks a lot, Google.)
There have been undesired outfit critiques and closet scrutiny. Announcements of facts followed by questions of, “Did you know that?” Because of course, until they were born, I must have known absolutely nothing. (Cue laugh track.)
As adults, we play this game to a degree. Some people more, some people less.
I try really hard to not care about what people think of me. But if I am to be honest, deep down, sometimes it does.
Of course, I can shake it off and walk on. I don’t change what I say or do (or wear) based on these little petty moments.
I know enough at this age to believe that if someone’s opinion of me is that critical, they’re probably not someone I want in my life.
But my kids?
Hell yeah – I want them in my life, all over my life, all around me.
I know intellectually that this judgmental phase will pass, that this is what they are supposed to do to differentiate themselves from me as they grow into adolescents seeking independence.
But I have to say, it goes by too fast. I feel like just yesterday, they were my pudgy-cheeked little ones, clinging to my arm, crying endlessly if I was out and away from them.
We want our kids to be well-adjusted and able to explore the world in their own way.
We want them to grow up to be independent thinkers who make their unique and original mark on the world.
It’s just, do they have to completely separate from us in order to get there?