Sunday, October 6, 2013

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Super Underwear

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(This will be a short one).

My kids have made me angry, sad, worried, nervous, and frightened, but never embarrassed. I acknowledge that they are kids exploring who they are. I understand that they are going to do some strange shit because, when I was their age, I did some strange things, too. However, today I had a moment.

We have some sister missionaries living a few doors away from us. Seeing as how we are the closest members of the Mormon church to them, they come over often for one thing or another. We had them over last night for dinner, and one of the sisters left her notepad. She stopped by this morning to pick it up.

Norah was running around the house with underwear on her head, wearing no pants and a pink Barbi life jacket (see photo below). She introduced herself as, "Super Underwear." And then ran outside and started wiggling her little pants-less bottom.

The sister missionaries gazed at her, half smiling, half shocked. And for the first time, my face flushed a little because of what Norah was doing. I pulled her inside, and she got away and ran out again. She did this a few times before I finally got the door shut.

I'm not really sure why I was so embarrassed. When I mentioned it to Mel, she said, "She's just being creative!"

And I suppose that's true. Part of me wonders if it's because I want her to be something more than she can. I want her to be the little girl in our family photo, smiling in a dress, modest, wonderful, and perfect.  The little girl who melts my heart.

But the more I think about it, I wonder if it's because it seems like something I did as a child. I can't recall ever running around with underwear on my head, but I did some really embarrassing stunts. Like when I was six and asked, at full volume, what, "sperm" was as my family entered the chapel. Or when I got naked and went rollerskating around my Dad's neighborhood. I called it "moon skating." Sadly, I was twelve-years-old, far too old for such a lack of modesty.

And it is only now, as a parent, that I realize how embarrassed I should have been for myself and my parents. I don't know if Mel ever did anything as strange as run around outside with underwear on her head. But I'd like to assume that she didn't. Mel and I will often argue over where our kid's negative traits came from. "She gets her over active bladder from you, Clint." or "He get's his addiction to cookies from you, Mel." Sadly, in this situation, there is no argument. Norah gets her lack of shame from me.

You also might enjoy Confessions Of A Stay At Home Dad.

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University.