Apparently, I am embarrassing. I did not know this. The kids always told me their friends liked me.
The Sainted Child turns 13 in October, and, with this milestone approaching, I have slid across the line from cool to creepy. She used to try and recruit kids for my minion army and argue that I was secretly an evil overlord. Now, she doesn't want to be in the same zip code with me.
I do know when I realized I was an embarrassing old lady. It was Monday. I arrived at the school to pick her brother up, and she was sitting with her friends. All I did was approach the group; I wanted to tell her I'd be waiting outside when she finished.
"LOOK OUT, IT IS MY MOM," she screamed. "She's going to bite your head!" That last bit was directed to her arch-enemy and academic rival, the Salutatorian. I never indicated a willingness to go cannibal on the child, but evidently, I may have stressed the competition between them a bit too much.
Besides, the Salutatorian became a lanky moppet and probably towers a foot and a half over me. No way I was reaching his head. Even if I wanted to. Which I didn't.
Then She-Who-Runs-With-Scissors showed up. One of Sainted Child's best friends, she has a hyperactive imagination, a strange fascination with scissors - never a good combination - and a complete disregard for personal space.
Of course, she was standing in my personal bubble.
"Personal space, child," I said. I tried to gently move her out of my space, but it wasn't happening.
"You're standing by my chair," she replied. Apparently, this meant she could stand in my space.
"What's the personal space limit?" another child asked. "Like, a foot?"
"An arm's length," I explained, demonstrating. It still didn't move SWRWS out of my bubble.
Sainted Child squirmed like a worm on a hook. I considered asking if she had to go to the bathroom, but decided this might embarrass her.
"I'm going to wait for you outside," I said. "You know, I couldn't possibly embarrass you any more than you just did yourself."
"She has a point," said yet another child, whom I am dubbing Wise Child.
I beat a strategic retreat to the car before I ruined her reputation with the middle school set.
Finally, she came out, looking over her shoulder periodically to make sure no one noticed she was in my company, and climbed into the car.
"You know," I said, "I've been looking for a column idea."
She was horrified for a moment, then sniffed, "None of my friends read the paper unless they're in it, anyway."
I laughed. "Oh, yeah? What about the Orthodontist?" The Orthodontist and his father have excellent taste; they are long-time readers of my column. We call him the Orthodontist because, at 6 years old, she came home and told me she had made a new friend in kindergarten and he was an orthodontist.
"He can't possibly be an orthodontist, he's 6," I said.
"He told me that he was a Greek orthodontist," she insisted.
That was when she believed what I said. If this happened today, she'd still be insisting the child was capable of oral surgery.
She slumped in the seat and covered her eyes.
"I wish you wouldn't write about this."
"It's OK, none of them read the paper anyway."
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)