Embarrassing your kids is a privileged bestowed upon parents in exchange for having to feed them. But it is an art form because you still want them to speak to you every now and again. The aim is not to scar them for life, you merely want to cause moderate, temporary discomfort and show them who’s the boss. You certainly don’t want to be the reason why they take up unhealthy habits like smoking crack, kicking puppies or end up as someone’s bitch in jail.
In days gone by it used to be a simpler activity. Dads could simply lie around on a sofa, watching Friends, wearing your favourite T-shirt resembling the battle ground of a QuarterPounder and a SloppyJoe. Nowadays kids have Facebook and Instagram and they might just post a photo of your protruding belly with a hashtag #OMGlookatmyDad. (And with my luck that post would go viral, unlike my blog or tweets.)
Other less-public variations of embarrassment is showing her baby pictures to any prospective suitor and then throwing random comments around like “She was the fattest kid in the country. People used to stare, I would ask for money and they would literally shower us with cash. It’s how I paid for the house.” But that would imply allowing suitors into my house and that is certainly not gonna happen any time soon!
One has to be more subtle, choosing the special moments with extreme caution. Just like picking a good bottle of wine. (Actually it’s nothing like selecting wine. If it’s red, I’ll take it.) Embarrassing teenagers implies getting them red-faced from blushing, NOT from anger. It’s a delicate balance but I will share three incidents that occurred during our recent Summer holiday as an illustration and/or educational tool to other fathers.
Princess and a couple of friends were chatting to three awfully disgusting, hormone invested humanoids, commonly referred to as “boys” when the Wife and I saw them, on route to the pool. Wife gave me a stern warning not to do anything. She should know better. Like all well-trained parents of teenagers we know it’s best to ignore them when spotted in their natural habitat. I did but made damn sure to pass behind the guys. Then I went total ape-shit, pulling faces, doing jazz-hands, jumping jacks, stopping short of a full monty. All the girls, except Princess cracked up laughing, when I simply continued my leisurely stroll. She eventually spoke to me again.
On another occasion I was preparing a fire for our daily braai because when South Africans go on holiday, we braai. It is what it is. (Technically that’s not true because even if South Africans are not on holiday, we braai.) Anyhow, I was standing in front of the fire, taking in the last hour of the day with a glass of wine, when Princess came strolling along with another one of those sex-crazed idiots. She had her wits with her because as soon as she saw me, she decided to part ways with the guy. They greeted with a hug and once again I couldn’t control myself, belting out “Hey, hey, hey!” Like a drunk Santa Clause. He abruptly ended their embrace and swiftly scurried away. Poor guy. She eventually spoke to me again.
The third time occurred in a very crowded pool. It was an extremely hot day so most of the people who decided to get wet were just hovering in the water like hippo’s. Princess and her squad honoured us with their presence when they entered the pool on the other side to where her parents were lounging around. (As expected.) We haven’t seen her for a couple of hours so I thought it a good idea to show her how much she was missed. I started waving, with both my arms. Frantically. Some people thought I was drowning. After persisting with my elaborate greeting, Princess finally decided it would be better to acknowledge her lunatic father in the best way she possibly could…by waving back …with both arms…frantically…
That made my heart smile. And she eventually spoke to me again.