There are joys great and small that come with being a parent. For every first word or graduation ceremony, there’s an expected giggle or insight that makes us swell with pride.
Public humiliation is such a small joy. And it’s a door that swings both ways. Jellybean’s embarrassed me by, for example, shouting, “My daddy pooted,” while walking down the frozen food aisle at Publix. But for The Diva, we are the catalysts for such torment … and God it’s fun.
Back when she was a wee-Diva, My Lovely Wife and I got our out kicks by seeing how many deepening shades of red she could turn while we sang Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw” ay full throat in an utterly empty Pizza Hut. Most the time our mere presence is enough to elicit such facial contortions, but her defense is pretending we’re only weird strangers who seem to be following her around the mall, or Target or anywhere else that children of a certain age congregate.
Which is why I was utterly dumbfounded when she agreed to go see a movie with me this past weekend … this past Friday night, to be exact, which also happened to be opening night of a horror movie called, “The Lady in Black.”
I almost didn’t ask, not because I didn’t want her to go, but figured there’d be a greater chance of a John Lennon and George Harrison rising from the dead to reunite The Beatles than my teenager agreeing to go out in public with me, knowing there was a possibility of running into someone – anyone, no matter if it’s the janitor – from her high school that she knew.
But say yes she did. The Diva and I’ve always bonded over horror movies My Lovely Wife scares easily, therefore – hindsight being 20/20 – taking her to see Saw on our first date was a bad idea. From The Thing to The Exorcist, Halloween (both part 1 and 2) to The Strangers, The Diva and I have rolled our eyes and pretended to not be afraid through them all.
We even survived The Dead Girl – a terrible movie about some boys who find a nekked zombie and start … well … having sex with it. Needless to say, I had my Netflix-picking privileges suspended a while for that one.
The place was packed with largely loitering teens, but The Diva walked only about nine feet in front of me and even managed to talk to me once we got into the theater. Together we mocked the previews and made fun of the goofy looking adults standing in line with their kids (I knew choosing the Iron Maiden T-shirt would raise my cool quotient). Then tragedy struck – a cute boy from her school walked in with a mob and “L-O-O-O-O-K-E-D” at her, making “totally awkward eye contact.” She used my phone to text anyone about the mortifying situation into which she’d stumbled.
I was invisible again. The Diva spent the next 20 minutes silently wishing that seat would either swallow her or me, but once the lights went down … it was like were sitting on the couch at home, pretending not to be scared.
When the movie was over … let’s just say fire drills and bomb threats have been met with less panic. Back in the car, after her heart rate had slowed and the color in her cheeks cooled, The Diva and I debated the movie’s merits.
Parenting … it’s all about the small joys.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.