Living for the Journey: By Pam Robinson.
Recently, a member of my church remarked about the embarrassment I must surely bring my 15-year-old daughter Jessica when we’re out together at an event and I need to photograph it. Jessica and I along with my sister Shirley happened to be at the St. Matthew Summer Social just a couple of weeks ago when the church member shared her concern. Jessica didn’t say a word in response. On the other hand, I took the comment to heart and echoed the church member’s words, “I guess I do embarrass Jessica.” The thought had never occurred to me until then, and suddenly I was upset about the possible blow to my daughter’s self-esteem.
Of course, as all parents of pre-teens and teens understand, we are doomed to be an embarrassment to our kids. Jessica has never, for example, wanted her dad and me to chaperone one of her school dances. When we took our turn as chaperones for an 8th grade dance, Jessica did the only reasonable thing: she completely ignored us all evening. That kind of distance is kept also when she’s just hanging with a group of friends. I know better, to cite another example, than to wave even limply at Jessica as she walks toward the car once school is dismissed. Like the rest of the parents, I act cool and greet my kid only after the car door is closed securely behind her. This action prevents my needing to wear a paper bag over my head.
Jessica’s dad has seemed to win the prize, however, for creating the most embarrassment for our daughter. Jessica has usually enjoyed the privilege of rides to and from school throughout junior high and, again, last year during her freshman year of high school. On occasion, her dad has needed to drop her off or pick her up in the red wheelchair transit vehicle he sometimes drives for the Posey County Council on Aging. Her face turns as red as the vehicle on these occasions.
At least, I thought her dad caused Jessica more embarrassment than I did until the church member pointed how awkward my photo ops are for my daughter. The best I can hope is that Jim and I rank as equals in humiliating Jessica. Perhaps being known as the daughter of a photojournalist brings no more shame than being caught exiting or entering the hulking wheelchair vehicle.
At any rate, both Jim and I realize we stopped being hip several years ago. Even with my new blue streak in my hair, I can’t turn back the clock. It’s just one way for me to “rage, rage against the dying of the light,” as Dylan Thomas would say. Or it might just reflect my character. Everyone’s heard, after all, of people who can cuss a blue streak.
One thing’s certain: I’m sure, at times, I will embarrass my daughter Jessica. Her shame is another consequence of the generation gap and of a teenager working to establish her independence. In years to come, I hope Jessica learns to stop taking my behavior personally and sees I’ve just been doing my job.