Into the woods, a little while longer

By Mir
March 27, 2008

I may have mentioned that I accompanied my daughter’s class on a field trip on Monday. There’s really no way to describe heading into the woods with twenty-four fourth graders, some of whom believe that nature ends at the edge of the playground.

Chickadee is turning ten soon, and I keep asking her, “So, when do I become an embarrassment? When will the very idea of me daring to show my face within a mile radius strike fear into your heart?” Make no mistake—I’ve already started becoming stupid. Very, very stupid. And demanding. [Insert huffy sigh here.] But so far, she laughs at the idea of my mere presence being horrifying.

She loves to have me come into her class. She’s proud to have me along, while the other kids cluster around and ask to see my nails, my phone, my shoes; they ripple with shy happiness when I remember their names; I am a rare and exotic life form in the classrom, and it never ceases to amaze me. Still, my days are numbered.

I have this area, and this school, to thank for my extended tenure in the “not embarrassing” camp, I think. Had we stayed where we used to live, I would already be persona non grata amongst a sea of pampered kids. Here, the point is driven home each and every day—some parents never show up. An adult who pays attention is a hot commodity. It’s a lesson for me as much as for them, because I am learning to appreciate the little moments and take time to really see little joys.

Chickadee and I have already entered rough waters, and there are tougher times ahead. She’s growing away from me, even now. As she should. But I hope she will always have room in her heart and her schedule to take my hand as our matched footsteps crunch the leaves beneath our feet.

Time is slower between the trees. Not slow enough to stop her from dropping my hand and darting ahead more and more often, but I’ll take it.

Into the woods

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.


  1. All Adither

    This was good for me to read. Thank you. I’ve been so ready for my littles to GROW UP ALREADY. So sick of all the neediness and work involved that I’m not appreciating their pudgy confused sweetness like I should.

  2. Stacy

    Ugh, I’m dreading that moment. My oldest is only 4 but already I can tell that we’re going to have a rough time when she hits adolescence. I feel for you!

  3. Brigitte

    While I often wish my 3-year-old wouldn’t be so NEEDY, I’m going to miss getting to hug n’ kiss n’ snuggle her whenever I want (and see that cute little tushie!). I hug her as much as possible now, because before I know it, the whole concept will just be too humiliating for her, I’m sure.

  4. kathleen

    sigh…this makes me want to hold on to each second as my boy turned 8 months yesterday.
    as a 3/4th grade teacher, i know how kids can be at this age towards their parents…and they are trying so hard to break free.
    this is a sweet, thoughtful post.
    and i LOVE the photograph!

    happy thursday to you!

  5. Megan

    I spent my teenage years horrified at the thought that anyone would know I was related to my mother – horrified. So quite early on I made a point of stepping back, of allowing my children to choose to walk ten paces in front of me and pretend I didn’t exist in front of their friends. Know what? To my continuing amazement they insist on introducing me. They call me over and show me off. They even hug and kiss me STILL – and they are large and lanky teens. I’m baffled, I admit, but quite humbled. Now I need to go apologize to my mother – from a distance.

  6. dad

    Hold on to the fact that if you play your cards right, and are very lucky, after eight to ten years of being embarrasing you become acceptable again. Then the task is to stretch out that time until you become a curiosity.

    Believe me. It’s worth it.

    Thanks for making Thursdays my favorite.

  7. Krystal

    My darling, darling niece who I am helping raise started getting embarrased when she hit middle school. Of course that is when they turn into that evil, evil creature that you are glad you knew when they were two because you certainly don’t know them now. I’m hoping she will grow out of it soon.

  8. Flea

    I was never embarrassed by my mother. My DAD on the other hand … I could write a BOOK!!!

    I love heading to my fourth grader’s class. He asked me today if I’d come for lunch. And you’re right about the girls swarming and chattering. They’re the sweetest things ever. Next year it all changes, I’m told, if only from the school’s perspective. They discourage parent interaction in intermediate. It’s all about the need to individuate and detach. I’m all about that for my children, but I’m certainly enjoying showing up at school now, while I can.

    Look at you, with two touching posts in one week!

  9. Jill

    I dread the day when my husband & I are no longer cool in the eyes of our children.
    We have it pretty good right now – 6months and 2 years. But it’ll happen so fast…

    What an awesome sight!

  10. Aimee

    Awww… happy Love Thursday!

    Great picture!

  11. Heidi D.

    What a great post… and one that hits close to home. My son is 7 (turning 8 this June). He’s already made changes on his own, that shows he’s growing up before I can take it all in.
    Sometime last year, he decided that he wanted to tuck himself into bed from now on. He does still gives us our goodnight hug and kiss, though.
    And just recently, I was informed that I don’t need to cut his sandwich in half anymore (I’m guessing that decision came about from being around other kids at lunch-time)

    I guess they’re going to grow up whether we’re ready or not.

  12. Heidi D.

    Forgot to add~ My mom used to always show up and help in my classrooms. I loved it and the kids loved her. Both parents were never really embarrassing to me (well… maybe on some occasions they were) and my friends always liked them.
    I hope that’ll be the case with both my boys as they get older.

  13. smarty

    As a mom of a 14-yo girl who feels mainly hated all the time,
    (and often the feeling is mutual) let me just say where is my 10 year old sweet girl and who is this alien creature ? I remind myself she is still in there somewhere, but this parenting thing is too challenging. My son (10) is still my best buddy, but I’m getting worried. On the bright side, at least they are potty trained.

  14. Melisa

    I couldn’t have been more surprised when my 13 year-old grabbed and held my hand as we walked through the zoo last week. I must not be too embarrassing YET. Now, if we were at her school, that would be an entirely different story.

  15. Mary

    Mine are 7, almost 5 and 2 1/2. I still get to rock my toddler at nap time every day and it’s my absolute favorite time of the day. And when my 5 year old asks to snuggle, we drop everything and do it. I’m sad that my 7 year old doesn’t fit in my lap anymore. Thanks for the reminder to cherish these moments before I turn stupid and embarrassing.

  16. Niki

    I’m blessed to work in the school my girls (17.5 & 12.5) attend, and when I see them in the halls, it’s “Hi Mommy!” and not embarrassment. They even come see me (with their friends) in my office, knowing that I’m good for a Tootsie Roll. That doesn’t mean my presence is not embarrassing in other contexts, but at school we’re ok. And the day my 12.5 year old stops kissing me goodnight is going to be a sad one. Enjoy it while you can!

  17. donna

    My daughter is not even a year old yet and I already fear that day.

  18. Deb

    Great Love Thursday post! That is wonderful that you are in the school so much. My son loves for me to come in to volunteer and all of the kids in the school know me (there are only 75 of them lol). It will be sad when he eventually moves to the middle school.

  19. Anna

    -some parents never show up.

    *heartbreak* Gotta go hug my babies.

  20. bogartg

    Perfect timing and follow-up to your pink paper piece!
    My daughter turned 14 yesterday and with her activities and such, she still needs a taxi driver, so she’s playing it smart, I guess by interspersing her sweet moments with her rude/obnoxious/#$%^& moments. Seriously, though,when those moments occur, I think it boils down to her not having the tools quite yet to communicate her feelings or even recognize what the feeling is at that moment. When it comes down to it, though, through her ranting and raving and rolling of the eyeballs, she just needs a hug from mommy to make it better for a bit.
    PS. I teach 3rd-5th graders at a school were parents like you are a gem. In fact, we share Love Thursday items every week during our breakfast time (we are on a free breakfast program and eat breakfast in the classroom, so that’s how needy we are) and the kids love it.

  21. DR

    The most common comment parents made to me at junior high parent/teacher conferences was…”Please tell me I’ll like my kid again!” It was rather amusing to me because the ones who said it had the best behaved, most courteous children.

    I also used to tell them that once in a while they’ll get a small glimpse of the man or woman their child will become and realize it’s all worth it. However, the day-to-day existence with a pre-teen discovering an independent social life is often like riding a roller coaster.

    My guess is that since you are such a hit with her classmates, your “coolness” is going to last quite longer than you expect. From the sounds of it, you rate off the chart with the students! When you realize how much some of those children have been continually disappointed by the adults in their lives, it will take your breath away to comprehend how precious a gift they have given you.

  22. Jules

    My 13 year old balks when I tell him that I am going to chaperone a field trip. Because of his reaction I make a point of going. We are about to go on a weekend field trip with the band. His reaction was mortification, but when I talked to him about it later, he was fine with it.

    I think he doesn’t appreciate when I tell the kids that he used to listen to Baby Beluga and vounce around in his walker whenever it came on. Think that could be it?

    I think that you will always be welcome on field trips. Even if Chickadee says she doesn’t want you there, deep down she secretly loves that her mom is there.

    Hate that you are missing Bossy tonight!

  23. Headless Mom

    Hey smarty…what does potty trained mean?

  24. Cele

    Megan has the trick, it pretty much worked for me too. My parents raised us to be independent. I never remember being embarassed by my parents, I do remember them begin pretty darn dumb thought. pfft! :roll:

    So I raised my daughter to be independent, for a long time we were a team, I don’t think I was ever an embarassment for her as long as I kept my distance.

  25. Sheila

    Yesterday, I found myself actually trailing along behind my fourth-grader and two of her friends as they made their way to a table of girls to get ready for a girl’s movie event at a local high school (we’re on Spring Break). They were ahead of me, chattering excitedly and oblivious to the fact that I was following them meekly saying, “Bye! See ya! Have a great time girls! OK, bye then!” as they found a seat.

    It struck me that I was feeling just like I did in high school when a boy I liked walked by and I made subtle, desperate attempts at conversation (or even eye contact). I am NOT ready to feel like an outsider in my child’s life. I’ve only had her ten years! Gah! Can we please form some sort of Desperate Mothers Online group?

  26. Bob

    but it will get better. the talks will start – about boys, what should I wear (or if she’s more like you, which of the 3 dozen pairs of shoes should I wear), etc. by the time she’s a fully-fledged teen you two will probably be best buds. she just has to get past this petulant part first.

  27. Crisanne

    Between you and your dad, I swear! Happy Love Thursday!!

  28. the planet of janet

    one of my favorite moments ever is having my 13-year-old daughter tell me that i am her best friend. now, i have no illusions that this is truly so, but it makes me smile to think that it even crosses her mind to say it.

  29. Ladybug Crossing

    It lasts longer than you think. My 9th grader still likes to have me around. Sometimes he doesn’t want to be seen with me, but he wants me to volunteer… Sometimes he gives me hugs in public…
    I’ll take what I can get.

  30. Daisy

    “…some of whom believe that nature ends at the edge of the playground.” Sad, but true. It’s one reason that I pushed taking my 6th grade students to camp every year. Too many of them believed that the sad, scrawny trees on the edge of the soccer field were, well, nature. Yes, life is slower under the trees.

  31. Vane

    Awww … sweet post

    My princess is 8 1/2 yo and I so dread that moment too …

  32. Brandy

    My Daughter is 12 (soon to be 13) and the growing away has definitley started. But, there are moments where she will give me a hug for no reason, or when I’ll grab her and kiss the top of her head (where she acts surprised and somewhat embarassed, but that I can see in her eyes is secretly pleased) that make it worthwhile. And make it easier not to send them to their rooms until they’re 18. *g* Good Luck!

  33. Heather

    Ah, Mir, every time you talk about the other kids in Chickadee’s class, my heart pretty well breaks in two. Thanks for being one of the ones who shows up!

  34. Karen (from Our Deer Baby)

    Welcome to the Stupid Parent Club. My 11yo daughter is really practicing her teenage eye rolling and attitude. Sometimes it is cute, sometimes it is just darned annoying.


  35. Sue

    I love Love Thursday! My nine-year old has already given strict instructions not to acknowlege him in any way when I am at school. (Not that I indulge him, but ouch.) He’s a boy though (who for some reason has always been embarrassed that he has a mother).

  36. jennielynn

    Honestly, that day may be farther off than you would think. Drama Queen is in 7th grade and during the last dance I chaperoned, I was amazed that she and her friends came up often to chat and even give me little hugs! Two of the girls actually introduced their “boyfriends” to me!

    I know, I’m still having a minor freakout at 13 year olds with boyfriends too!

  37. arduous

    God damn it Mir. Why you gotta keep making me cry at work! :)

  38. gwendomama

    so beautifully said.

    i agree – which i why i will be in the classroom til she kicks me out.

  39. mojo

    I’ve been almost a regular fixture in the kindergarten classroom this year. I get hugs on a regular basis from several daycare kids, lamenting cries from a few of them “when are you going to heeeeelp again?” and I feel my heart being torn out of my chest as another little soul weeps “my mommy never comes to help”. I know I’m very fortunate to have the time to volunteer.
    Today, though, I walked with the oldest and her class to check out a junior high school for next year. I know within six months I will be forbidden from entering the school. This power to embarrass will be wielded as another weapon in my arsenal of discipline options. muwahahahaha!

  40. MomCat

    You gotta USE that potential embarrassment when it comes. Hang it overhead like the Sword of Damocles. Promise her that if she doesn’t make it home by curfew, you’ll stand in the school parking lot the next morning, in a pink, flowered hat and sing show tunes. Make the most of it!

  41. Kristen

    I would love to have those times back again. My daughter is getting ready to graduate and thinks I have no idea how she is feeling or what she is going through, therefore, she only needs her friends. I’m just biding my time until she passes through this phase and comes back. It will happen, but the question is, “Can I wait that long?” : )

  42. Shalet

    What a wonderful rainbow of colors! It is indeed hard to watch them grow. Happy Love Thursday to you mama! Enjoy it while it lasts.

  43. Scottsdale Girl

    You’ll grow apart .. but then you will be closer than ever and there will be a glorious day (hopefully in her 20’s) when she will acknowledge how SMART and PRETTY and AH_WONDERFUL you really are/were.

    I promise.

  44. KarateMom

    “Next year it all changes, I’m told, if only from the school’s perspective. They discourage parent interaction in intermediate. It’s all about the need to individuate and detach.”
    OK, that scares me! Especially since it’s coming from the school itself!

    I homeschool, so I don’t have to worry about the school telling me that I need to detatch. But, I noticed my daughter getting a little embarassed when I’d kiss her goodbye in front of her friends at the co-op that we attend. So I asked her if she’d prefer it if I’d kiss her at the car. She said yes, and my heart broke a little bit, but I understand.

    I love this post!

  45. Dawn

    We have just emerged from the last of adolescence. Suddenly, I know a LOT. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

  46. Cynthia Samuels

    So Mir, what lovely thoughts. It can be mild, not always totally malignant, this adolescent thing. And I have a suggestion for you – one that is quite wonderful. A woman named Shireen Dodson worried as you do, and to keep a “line open” she started a mother-daughter book club when her daughter was around Chickadee’s age. They gathered 4-5 moms and daughters and met once a month. The book about it is totally inspiring and fun to read. Might want to give it a try – it’s all over the country now with no complaints that I’ve read. Have fun in NY and have a pretzel with mustard for me…..

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