Monday, February 13, 2012

The Mechanics of Becoming Lame

There are certain ways in which I've always been lame: I feel scared when a 9 Inch Nails song comes on, for me the B-word is b00b and the F-word is f@rt,  and I have an eye pad that is stored in the fridge which I wear when I have a headache and I do call it my iPad.

But there are other ways in which I have become lame over time almost entirely as a result of being a parent. I felt it happening--I willingly let it happen. And here I am on the other side of it.

First of all you are primed to get more lame through a process of humiliation. Birthing, touching feces, suffering public tantrums, and the like strip you of your pride. Once you've lost your pride, it's a slippery slope to lame. Because to be cool--to stay cool--you need your pride to keep you from doing embarrassing, "uncool" things. Many of those uncool things take place in KinderMusic circles, Cub Scout meetings, and in the privacy of your own home as you seek to appease your child. You'll read books that have ugly illustrations, offer blankies that aren't vintage, and sing mainstream bubble gum pop if that is what's called for. It's not that you don't know. You are just over it. Sad? Mature? Disappointing? Enlightened? I don't know. But there it is.

You'll spend a huge chunk of your savings on a straight-forward trip to Disneyland instead of an ironic, mustached, pilgrimage to the Grand Ole Opry. And--here's what makes you truly lame instead of simply selfless or just a good sport--you'll enjoy it.

You'll face off against a surly teenager one morning and instead of calling him on it or making a whole thing out of it you'll attempt to jolly him up with seemingly oblivious cheerfulness and a bright, falsetto, "RISE AND SHINE!' Here's what that surly teenager won't know for another twenty years: You are an intelligent, self-aware human being who knows that it is hard to get out of bed in the morning and, guess what? He's the reason you have to.

It's the same type of situation when you ask your daughter what her plans are for scooping the cat litter. It approximates playing dumb. But you aren't an idiot. You know scooping the cat litter isn't fun and you know she hasn't "made plans" to do it. And yet, there you are like some kind of ridiculous cruise director who thinks people put "Scoop Cat Litter" at the top of their To Do lists. And--again, here's the thing--you do.

I'm not saying it's good or bad, right or wrong. I'm just explaining the process. It happens slowly over time but one day you'll wake up and realize you're that person who hums all the time, likes cottage cheese, and appears to enjoy ironing.

You're yer mom.

30 comments:

  1. I've been going through this myself. For instance, yesterday I decided to wear only comfy shoes to church, to let the holes from my ear piercing "grow in," and to never wear contacts again. All this while singing a made-up song about loving Sunbeams to placate my daughter and having long discussions about whether to serve beans and cornbread at the RS birthday dinner. Yes, I am lame.

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  2. Hilarious and sad, all at the same time :/ I'm barely 31 and I'm guessing that I became lame years ago.

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  3. This made me laugh so hard, I cried. I am trying to fight the lame the only ways I know how: awesome earrings and lipstick. PS This is also what my mom did. So, the result is the same.

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  4. I know my kids think I'm a little off, weird, dumb, and lame. I just hope that one day they'll realize that sometimes I was acting that way for their benefit, and that sometimes I actually became those things because it was better for them for me to be that way. Oh, and sometimes I was just those things to begin with. Three things. Those three things.

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  5. Okay guys - hate to break it to you - it's not becoming lame - it's becoming old - or maybe in your case middle-aged!!

    Becoming old, though, makes your "lameness" almost charming - at least to your grandchildren!

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  6. See, you are doing it all wrong. You have to instill in them from birth that you are the be all end of all of all awesomeness and cool. Then they think EVERYTHING you do is cool.
    That's totally what I did. I'm totally pulling it off.

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  7. oh babs, if it's any consolation, i never thought you were lame. :-) and my kids think you are super cool. you can sew and play cards better than i ever could.

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  8. Are you spying on me? Because I was thinking about this scenario that played out here when eldest daughter revealed her first "crush" (she's 10 1/2, not a huge deal, but I get that it is to her and I've been pretty cool about it). My husband was being super dorky and making wise cracks and I laughed (and she did, too, begrudgingly)and I thought to myself, "We are SO on the fast track to becoming those totally dorked-out parents in every John Hughes film!" Hopefully we pull off the ending part where the parents turn out to be wise, kind, and human, too. [oh PS: we also went on youtube when Whiteny died to show her the "I Wanna Dance" video which unfortunately led to The Hammer Dance, which I didn't even like, all in the name of her 80s education. See? We are kicking your tail at this lame game.]

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  9. oh my stars, when will I learn to check WHO IS SIGNED IN before I leave you a comment. I'm not the PTO today, I'm RICH. And also still Jamie.

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  10. I think you're a pretty awesome writer

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  11. Man, this post SPEAKS TO ME today, and I can just SEE my teenager rolling his eyes at me for using the phrase "speaks to me" and/or for pretending that I connect to other human beings in any meaningful way.

    Disheartened sigh.

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  12. I'm not my Mom. My Mom is cooler than I am. Maybe because she had three kids and I've got five? Is that how it works? More kids= even more lame?

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  13. Oh man ... I've only got one little kiddo and I'm already to cottage cheese level lameness. I dread the day I'm called to be in scouts.

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  14. I just plan on holding once/month FHE about how cool I used to be. I will show pictures, read excerpts from my journal, and even coach my husband's testimony of my formal coolness if necessary. Each time, we will end with a rousing home-spun song about how it is their fault/my choice/because of my selfless sacrifice that I am now lame. I think this will inspire in them a real sense of gratitude and awe.

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  15. Genius. Love your writing.

    Here's one way to keep from becoming "lame": don't be cool in the first place. I have always thought I could be cool, but it never worked out. To my credit I did listen to Beck in high school, but I enjoyed N*SYNC just as much.

    So when I talk about buying a minivan and friends ask how I could do such a thing, my answer is: because I'm not that cool. What about me is so cool that driving a minivan would somehow diminish it? No one has ever given me an answer. I already have the 3 screaming kids. Squeezing them into a Highlander: really not doing anything for or against my image that a minivan wouldn't do.

    My kids still think I am pretty awesome though, so, I think I have a few years before they realize the truth. Maybe a year. Theo's not in kindergarten yet.

    Also for the record, I think I may have called my mom something like "lame" at times during my teenage years but I don't think I actually thought she was lame.

    Old--maybe.

    Definitely charming.

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  16. I was such a young mom, I didn't even have time to be cool before being lame. My lameness is quite overwhelming.

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  17. Slippery slope, indeed! I'm only 26 and already on my way DOOOOWWWWNNNN!!!! Posh date nights at trendy restaurants with my husband have been traded for Happy Meals at McDonald's play place with our daughter. While we still enjoy our time together as a family, we've come to the conclusion that we're no longer as hip as we think...or maybe we never were?? I dunno, we do wear Toms, skinny jeans, and cardigans. That makes you cool, right?

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  18. This is FABULOUS!

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  19. I totally relate. I just bought a lame mom car and the salesman kept asking me if I wanted something "sportier." I lost my cool (like I had any to begin with) and said: "Do you see my current car? (a station wagon) "Do you see the two car seats in back? Do you see the goldfish crumbs all over everywhere?" Car salesmen should read this article so they know moms already feel lame enough buying lame mom cars - they don't need to add insult to injury by asking us if we want something sportier. That ship has sailed!

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  20. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Thank you for brightening my day! And Marie, your comment about the sportier car made me laugh. After test driving the Denali, Toyota Sequoia, 4-runner, and (my favorite)-- the Honda Pilot (black, of course), I stuck my tail between my legs, had a soft cry to myself and bought the (most practical) mini-van. Which now I love and happily drive everywhere and those automatic doors and trunk.....love. Yes, becoming lame seems inevitable. Something I didn't understand about my parents. . . Until now.

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  21. Amen. And your observation about cottage cheese is so right on. Sadly.

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  22. Hilariuos! I laughed out loud while reading this...or should I say, lol'd? I've traded my pink-before-it-was-mainstream-to-dye-your-hair-pink hair in for pink....wait for it......mom Crocs. Eew...AND to add insult to injury, they have Mickey Mouse head cutouts on them because I had to make an emergency purchase at Disney World to ease the pain of my aching feet that was caused by my cool yet totally un-padded Vans...which haven't been worn since. Yep...laaaaame.

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  23. Earlier this week, I turned on the Curious George move for my 15 month old son thinking he would like the monkey. He got bored after a few minutes. I sat and watched the WHOLE thing while my son played. My husband came in the room and got sucked into the movie, too.

    My 25 year old brother was in the other room but could hear what we were watching. He came in at the end and pointed out that we had just watched "Curious George" even though we didn't have to. I jumped to our defense with "It's a pretty cute show and we've never seen it before."

    I am definitely LAME.

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  24. I think you can also get to a point where trying to hold onto your coolness makes you even more lame than those of us who are already happily lame. Like the moms that dress way too young or grandma's that follow every youth fashion trend. It's just awkward...and lame :)

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  25. I've read this four times now. It's perfect.

    Especially the part about the falsetto cheeriness. There's something totally uncool and absolutely honest about being cheerful to your children's faces when they are being buttheads.

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  26. Hilarious! I am dying right now :)

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  27. I just found you and may I please just say, I love you :)

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