Monday, September 5, 2011

Parents: Just Playing It "Cool"

the character Fonzie from the sitcom Happy Day...Image via Wikipedia"Your mom is so cool," I heard the child whisper. "I wish my mom was more like her."

My head grew about 50 times bigger. She was talking about me. I was the "cool mom" of whom she was speaking.

And then I immediately became suspicious: Had I allowed something that most moms wouldn't? Had I unwittingly contributed to the delinquency of a minor?

I reviewed the evening's events and, having found no glaring error, dipped my head back down to eavesdrop some more.

"My mom would never dance around the living room to Selena Gomez songs with me," she gushed.

I beamed, feeling much more secure in my "cool" status once again.

Then I peeked cautiously around the corner to see if my child was doing any eye-rolling to protest her friend's proclamation. Seeing none, I chuckled to myself, "I'm cool."

Being a parent gives us many opportunities to be the "bad guy," to be the one who has to say "no" because we want our child safe, to be the one who has to be the voice of reason, which is hardly ever "cool."

However, the truth is, even as parents, we want to be liked. We want to be the envy of every other parent on the block. We want our kids' friends to want to hang out at our house.

And I'm not going to lie, it felt really nice to think I was in the lead of the non-official parental popularity contest. Maybe, just maybe I was doing something right?

I wanted to pull my child aside and say, "See, I told you I was cool. I mean, I know you thought I was completely barbaric for not allowing your friend to come over until your chores were done. But look- it didn't turn out too badly, did it? After all, they think I'm cool."

But, I knew better. As all we "cool" parents know, part of the "cool" factor is pretending not to care whether we are indeed "cool" or not. And, I'm here to tell you, I've had my share of practice in that department.

For example, when I took the cell phone away from my child because she talked to me in "that" tone of voice, she made it all too clear to me that I was decidedly "uncool." And when I made the mistake of acknowledging that I knew her in a public place, she completely shrugged off my question of going with me to the grocery store by glaring at me, and through gritted teeth saying, "NOT COOL, Mom." I managed to walk away with my head held high, repeating to myself, "You are the parent. You are not the friend. You will not always be cool."

And yet, miracle of miracles, today I have been dubbed "cool" by her peer, her friend, her confidant. I feel victorious, and, dare I say it, "cool."

Of course, I realize parenting is not a popularity contest. And sometimes something "cool" from a kid's perspective is "bad" from a parent's. But who in the world doesn't like to be liked and recognized every once in a while? I'd be lying if I said I didn't.

For now, I will hold on to this whispered revelation with both hands. I'm sure that in a very short while, my "cool" title will be stripped from me, and I will be back to the Queen of "uncool."

But as I dance around to the Selena Gomez song, laughing with my daughter and her friend, I realize something else: I am having fun. Cool, uncool, or otherwise. And really, that's the most "cool" part of all...

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