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Children suffer clueless parents. Age 5

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

Parents do things that embarrass their kids. Sometimes, they do so intentionally. My father ran through my transgressions in front of my aunts and uncles at family gatherings. Why he thought everyone needed to know that I didn't do my homework, or that I got caught swiping fruit from a neighbor's tree was beyond me.

Then there are times parents, including me, embarrass their kids unintentionally. Once I picked my daughter up from soccer practice wearing outdated, ill-fitting sweatpants and all her 11-year-old friends could see what a dork I was. Or when I cheered too loudly at her soccer games, she was so embarrassed that she banned me from attending. My son wasn't quite so sensitive. He just hated it when I did anything to draw attention to him. All parents do it, and we must try to forgive ourselves when we do.

Embarrassing moments leave an indelible mark on our psyche. Being embarrassed by our parents are memorable occasions because they are closely tied to a fight or flight mechanism. Since we can't fight our parents, and we can't run from them, the adrenaline release makes our cheeks flush and our pride suffer. They can be learning experiences that teach us to avoid the same mistakes with our kids.


I was embarrassed after my mother entered me in a fashion show for our church when I was about five. The fashion show was a popular event and all the ladies in the church community attended. All the models were children. "No mom." I remember saying to her. "I don't want to do this." She was unsympathetic; She committed me to doing it, I was going to do it, and that was that.

I remember two sets of clothes: a white "First Holy Communion" outfit, which was fine with me. I was sufficiently covered up and didn't mind showing off those clothes. The second number was entirely different. It was a lederhosen type outfit that showed off way too much leg for my taste and I thought looked ridiculous. "No mom, no." "Yes, son. Hold still while I tuck your shirt in." I was so embarrassed in those tiny shorts.

Then came the runway walk. It was about a hundred feet long, jutting out into a sea of mothers whose eyes were like spotlights following me the entire way out and back. I must have looked cute because when I walked out, collectively, all 400 mothers said "Awe." I was still embarrassed in-spite of the adoration.

Fortunately, I was able to avoid fashion shows from that point forward. Although I was embarrassed, this is not an indictment on my mom. She doesn't even remember the event. Though it has left an indelible mark on my mind, I'm okay, as are my children who have been embarrassed by me.

~ Andrew Laufer

Papa Laufer’s Stories: Positive Reflections of Life in America is now available on Amazon. 




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