For the life of me, I cannot remember at what age I first felt embarrassed by my parents.
I feel like it wasn’t something I knew I was supposed to feel by myself, but rather, something someone else told me I was supposed to be feeling.
Wanna ride with me and my mom for the field trip? She’s going to have pop and candy in the car!
Your mom drives a station wagon with wood paneling on the side, and Tara’s mom’s van has a real television in it.
Tara’s van smelled like wet St. Bernards and her mom went to jail for hitting the mayor with her car when she was drunk, but whatever.
Until that point, when my friends starting pointing out that we had an old crappy car or that my mom made my dresses and Halloween costumes, I had no idea I wasn’t generally as awesome as everyone else my age.
Two months ago, my children adored me. They did. I was way funnier than Andy, and while they pretended to be bored with me and flocked to him the second he walked in the door, deep down, they knew if they wanted to eat and not die of disease or murder, I was the one they needed to latch on to.
And then they started school.
Everyday I park the car, we get out, schlepping our belongs down the sidewalk to the glass doors, and like clockwork, a van filled with three kindergarten girls pulls up next to us, a door robotically opens, and a chorus of JUDE! JUDE WAIT FOR US! JUDE WE’RE COMING! JUDE WAIT HERE WE COME! HIIIIII JUUUUUUUDE! emerges.
A set of blonde twins and a little red headed girl with freckles dart toward us, and Jude immediately puts his head down and walks faster.
Jude hun, wait, are these your friends?
Jude, they are running to catch up, let’s wait a second.
COME ON MOM I DON’T CARE LET’S GO RIGHT NOW.
He stops me short of his classroom, ignores all the classmates that excitedly greet him as they walk by, lets me kiss his forehead fast, then runs into the room.
This is life with Jude. He’s fucking brilliant, but painfully quiet and soft spoken, and it takes him a good hour to warm up to you.
I would be the opposite of that. I’m chatty and speak in bad movie quotes and get entirely too close too soon.
In short, aside from the fact that my body made his body in some weird act of wizardry, I have absolutely nothing in common with his personality, I don’t understand him and it freaks me out.
So, despite threatening me with death, I called Andy in Korea and left him a voice mail, because unlike when I called to ask him to ask how to replace the batteries in the garage door clicker, this was an emergency. Maybe Jude was he was being bullied? Maybe he was autistic? Maybe he had a concussion? How can a 5 year old just not talk or make eye contact with people?
Yesterday, as I sat in car line playing Tetris, I watched Jude walk out the front doors next to one of the blonde girls from the van that morning. They walked side by side down the sidewalk, and when they reached the end, they hugged. Like, for a long time. Like, way longer than two people who have no idea how penises or vaginas work should be hugging.
It was the weirdest feeling I had ever experienced. Like a mixture of catching your parents having sex, coupled with seeing your grandma naked, with a touch of finding out your friends secretly three way called you after you called one of them a bitch.
As I got out of the car to open their doors and buckle he and Wyatt into their seats, Jude saw me, put his head down and ran to hop in the car.
Hey Jude, who was that girl?
The one you hugged, that girl right there?
MOM STOP LOOKING AT HER GOD.
Sorry. So, what’s her name?
I don’t know, she’s one of the twins, either Cara or Maddie.
You don’t know which one?
No mom, they’re called twins, they are two separate girls who are the same, that’s what twins means.
Got it. So both of them hug you?
Mom can you just stop looking at my friends and get in the car and ask me about my day or something?
Motherfucker, he’s not autistic, it’s me.
I’m thirty, I’m not lame. I listen to Foster the People, I know what iCarly is, I own hipster glasses, I don’t even have a will yet.
What the hell just happened?
(For the record, Wyatt still thinks I’m fucking glorious and not old and embarrassing at all.)