Embarrassing your kid is practically a rite of passage
This column was meant to be completely different.
It was supposed to be a delightful and amusing narrative describing my son’s infatuation with spending his summers with his grandparents. Specifically, it was going to be about a rock on the Ottawa River, a few feet away from my in-laws’ trailer. Each year, when the spring waters washed away winter’s rough sediments, a large rock would be exposed. The emergence of this rock heralded the start of summer, which would be christened by my son’s mother taking far too many pictures of him perched on that rock. She’d then compare them to previous years’ pics to show how much he had grown since the previous year.
But I can no longer write about that because of what happened today. When I picked up my son from school this afternoon, he was quiet and barely looked at me when I asked him how his day was. All subsequent questions were answered with curt one-word answers, until, “Dad?”
“Can you stop writing about me for that parenting magazine?”
The question took me aback. He knew I’d been writing about him for Parenting Times for the past decade, but he never showed any interest in the magazine before.
“Eh? Why for?”
He started spitting words so hotly that my poor earholes struggled to keep up. (The lack of punctuation below is deliberate, as he spoke so fast there wasn’t enough time for proper grammar.)
“Today at daycare one of the teachers brought in one of your dad magazines and saw a picture of me and showed it to everyone especially my friends and when they read the story you wrote they all laughed at me and now I can never go back to daycare or school or anywhere ever again so you have to stop writing about me!”
The blood drained from my face. In the most recent column, I’d made a joke about falling asleep during sex with Riley’s mother. I hoped it wasn’t that one. That would make the next parent-teacher meeting awkward.
“Which … uh … what was the article about, buddy?”
“I DON’T KNOW! It was the one where I call you a fat ass, I think.”
Thank goodness! That was the previous article. Before I could feel any sense of relief though, Riley pipped up again.
“Seriously, stop writing about me? I’ll do anything.”
I then felt a feeling well deep within me, a foreign feeling, something I’d never felt in all the years of my son’s life.
I had always planned to embarrass him when he brings his first sweetheart around by “accidentally” displaying the ultrasound picture that conclusively proved we were having a boy, but now he’s aware I have the power to embarrass him in front of the entire world at my literal fingertips.
Throwing a temper tantrum because you don’t want to do your homework? Cool. I’ll deal with that once I’m done writing this article about a kid who throws homework-related tantrums. Don’t want to eat your vegetables? No worries, I can pen 500-words about a certain child who sheds tears over spinach. Feel like posing for the camera? I want to get the tear stains just right.
And I will write to embarrass him, because once you call your father a fat ass, all bets are off.