Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who Needs Self Esteem?

Do you have one of those friends? The one who is beautiful and fit. The one with nary a hair out of place, or plumbers butt to be seen. The one who somehow manages to have time to work out, keep a spotless house, read interesting books, mentally enrich her children and cook amazing, gourmet, organic meals all without smudging her lipstick? I have that friend. And on top of all that she is so genuinely nice that I can't even be jealous, I can only hang out with her and hope some of it rubs off on me.

So, we're out to dinner with this friend and her family. My jBird is fond of making conversation with the grownups. She sits and chats about the weather, asks after people's babies and other adorable little 7-year-old-acting-like-a-grownup kinds of things. She was explaining to my friend that the Greek restaurant where we were was one of her favorites because their "avgolemono soup is to die for and you must try it." Beautiful Friend, amused, asks:
"What are some of your other favorite restaurants?"
"Well, my very favorite is the Chinese Super Buffet out by Big Lots, do you know what I'm talking about? But we don't go there very often."
"Oh really? Why not?"
[This is where I start clearing my throat, ready to change the subject.]
My darling daughter, just as sincere and sweet as can be, says: "Oh, well don't you know, it gives Mama heartburn."
Beautiful Friend smiles and glances at me. I am both a little embarrassed and extremely relieved, thinking this is the end of it, but no.
"... and terrible diarrhea."
"Ha ha ha" [forced laugh] "OK, jBird, that's enough. Shall we get the hummus?"
She was afraid my garlic breath would
embarrass her in front of this guy!
"Oh no! Remember that time we came here before we met Rick Steves [the jBird's current heartthrob] and you ate all the hummus?" Turning confidentially to Beautiful Friend, "She ate all the hummus and had such terrible garlic breath that I didn't want her to ask Rick Steves for his autograph for me."

I have never been so glad that the Hooligan knocked his drink over for the third time during a meal.

As parents, we spend so much time trying to protect fragile little egos and build up these strong, independent little people. We monitor their TV, toys, stories, and friends so that they won't be bombarded with images and ideas that will make them feel bad about themselves. We are careful in our selection of words when we correct them so we can let them know they're not bad people, just made a bad choice. I get so much stink-eye on the playground when I holler "All right knuckleheads! Five minutes!" because both hollering and affectionate nicknames might be damaging to their little psyches. But you wanna know what I think? I think they're wise to our game. I think they know that real people don't talk like that. I think they learn about how to be strong, independent people by watching their parents be strong, independent people. The thing is, my jBird wasn't trying to be hurtful or embarrassing, she was just making conversation and that was her childlike estimation of what adult conversation is like.

So what can you do? You just hold your head high and pick up your spoon and have a taste of that "to die for" avgolemono soup and hope that your Beautiful Friend doesn't picture you cramming your face with hummus and bad Chinese food or sweating and groaning on the can every time she sees you.


  1. Yeah, I have one of those friends. Luckily, she lives an hour away, so she doesn't get to see me (in my ginormous imperfection) much. She does have a blog, tho' and that sends me into serious self-depreciation every time I read it.
    Also, I loved your post about comments. I thought the same thing- hoping they don't think I'm weird-desperate-for-friends girl.

  2. I have 2 of those friends. One has a blog, but the other doesn't. Whew!

    This is funny. I'm glad my cats can't talk. ;-)

  3. the post reminds me of a childhood song.. um "climbing up the ladder.... cha cha CHA"

  4. @spazim8 - I can't tell you how happy I am that you resumed your stalking just in time for the diarrhea post.

  5. I have one of those friends. We used to eat Chinese together in the backroom of the bookstore where we both worked. She would wash hers down with a soda and then she'd let loose a string of belches you would NEVER believe came from someone so perfectly polished. Then we would come out of the backroom together--me not so very polished (or so very NOT polished, depending on the day) and who do you suppose the customers thought made all those disturbing noises?

  6. I have to say you're right about kids, they are wise to games we didn't even know we were playing.
    Great story!!
    Incidentally, I have mentioned you in my blog just for fun. M Half directed me here recently and I am a new and instant fan. : ) LOVE your wanderings but really your style overall. Keep it up!

  7. @ Masked Mom- ok, I actually laughed out loud at your comment!

    I agree with your observation completely. It's when they imitate us that we find it the most ________(insert appropriate word here, depending on the situation: embarrassing, frustrating, aggravating, etc.). Yet we are their most important models. I am constantly challenged to try and set a better example for my children as I don't want to be a "do as I say, not as I *do*" Mom. At least not *all* the time!


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