In an effort to distract from what it really is (torture), the school distract has obliquely named the concert in which we parents have to sit through 300 kids playing medleys of Lightly Row and Mississippi Hot Dog, “The Winter Strings.” Sounds a lot more whimsical that way.

My own son has been playing since he could toddle and listening to him is downright pleasant. I played cello for many years – toured even – and while I was never as good as he is, I was good. I could have been great. The concerts, though, let’s just say I invariably get stuck behind the kid who spends the entire concert taking a shit in his pants.

The concert itself was unremarkable, save for my son, who spent most of it scowling in my general direction (no small feat on a big stage). What had I done to evoke such ire? How had I offended thee? Had I punched a puppy? Kicked a kitten? Told him that I hated Facebook?


Aunt Becky: “What are you wearing to the concert tonight?”

Ben: “These [pleated][greenish][ugly] pants and this [yellow] shirt and this [green] sweater-vest.”

Aunt Becky: “Okay, so let’s go with these black cargo pants instead. The green pants don’t really go and they’re a liiiitle too small.”

Ben: “NO.”

Aunt Becky: “Um.”


Aunt Becky: “You look like a mini-Alex P. Keaton.”

Ben: “Who?”

Aunt Becky: “Never mind.”

Ben: “I want to wear these pants.”

Aunt Becky: “Dude, the cargo pants are cooler. And black goes with yellow and green better than these do. Trust me, you look handsome!”

Ben: “NO.”

Aunt Becky: “Okay, in that outfit, you need a briefcase and a Wall Street Journal subscription.”

Ben (thinks): “That would be good.”


Ben (flounces off): “Fine.”

So now my son is mad at me because I wouldn’t let him go out dressed like a tiny member of the Republican National Committee. I’m pretty sure his rebellion will be to wear Dockers and button-down shirts.

Kids these days. Back in MY day, we pierced our eyebrows and shaved our heads and we LIKED it.

Maybe the kid will forgive me when he sees that I’ve gotten him a new sweater-vest/ascot combo. Or maybe he’ll just use this as fodder to put me in a bad nursing home. That seems more likely.

54 thoughts on “Parents Just Don’t Understand

  1. This reminds me of an article I read about Cher years back when Chastity was still Chastity. Cher said Chastity’s rebellion against her mother was to wear super conservative clothes because obviously. Your son can get together with my step-son and find the most horrible nursing home to put us in together!! Or he can call mine to get tips because I’ll be in one way before you will.

  2. Aw man! I thought this was going to be a post about Will Smith’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand” … maybe you need to play that for your son and see how he reacts. And now it’s in my head. Awesome.

  3. LOL Awww see this is how I am trying to convince the 3 year old he wants to dress. I want one of my kids to Suit up. I have a thing for little suits and fedoras. And preppy wall street clothing. Is there a support group for this? He is all on board for the Fedora and shoes but the suits not so much. Where did I go wrong? I want a Neal Caffery from White Collar dammit! And yes if he were a thief I would be OK with that too. Just as long as he looked good doing it.

  4. sooo, in barely related commentary… I want to learn how to play the cello. I’m 29. I know “you’re never too old,” but really, am I too old? any suggestions? Some background information: I don’t have a cello, the last instrument I played was the oboe in 6th grade for 8 months.

    1. NO! you’re not too old!!! i’m 35 and just bought a cello last spring. i found one for not too much that had been refurbished and my teacher said it would be a good ‘starter’ and i could trade up later. you will LOVE it. [well… most days]

  5. I have the rule in my house that my kids can dress however they like but the minute they start acting like assholes I start dressing them. This came in handy during the great emo phase of 2009.

  6. Don’t you hate it when the youngens don’t understand the Family Ties references? Or what mixed-tapes are? I bet most of the youth today don’t even understand that line the in “airplanes” song”

    “back when nobody listened to my mix tape..”

    Black cargo pants are way cooler. Let him be Fred from Scooby Doo next year! Then at least there is an excuse for the ascot!

  7. I think we all rebel to such an extent that we actually become what our parents most feared we would be… my dad was a Nixon Republican, couldn’t find anything nice to say about a Democrat if said Democrat had jumped off his stalled battery or saved him from an onrushing predator. He hated rock’n’roll, despised long hair, and thought pot was something he pissed in beside the bed when he was a kid.
    I’m proud to say I’ve never voted for a Republican, love ALL kinds of music, can’t think of a nice thing to say about any Republican under any circumstances, and think we ought to quit persecuting consenting adults who want to catch a buzz on their own time.
    My kids (you guessed it) don’t like my clothes, roll their eyes at my choices in music, and are completely apolitical and apathetic about all things relevant to current events. About the only thing we agree on is that pot should be decriminalized.
    bless their little hearts…

  8. awesome. I love it when my boy comes out dressed like a goober. The kicker is when he’s all “aww mom” when I say go comb your hair. um, yeah. either we comb the hair down, or you go dress like you have a clue. Cuz I have NO fashion sense and even I can tell you look like a dope. Better yet is the day he’s standing there in a very colorful combo and tells his Dad “you wearing THAT?” roflmao LOVE these kids!

  9. When I was in the orchestra we ALWAYS had to wear black bottoms and white tops. No matter what. My last concert when I was in high school I came prepared to mess with our wussy teacher, and wore white pants and a black top.

    I was a rebel.

  10. “I’m pretty sure his rebellion will be to wear Dockers and button-down shirts.”

    I cannot TELL you how these thoughts about Isobel keep me up at night.

    (I mean to say, I’m worried about her turning conservative on me. Not cross-dressing. I’m fine with the cross-dressing.)

  11. I still have memories of my pink hair and pierced lip and my two-year-old chooses dress shoes over flaming light-up super hero shoes. What is this world coming to?

    (P.S. “NO CHILD OF MINE…” cracked me up.)

  12. Hahahaha! I’m waiting for my turn. I dress my infant in cargo pants and Alice In Chains hoodies (not lying). I have no doubt he’s gonna ask for the lame-ass sweater vests my MIL already tries to put him in. That will suck.

  13. My 7-year-old son told me around Christmas that he “wouldn’t mind having one of those pink bunny costumes that [that the kid in A Christmas Story]got.” Me: uhhhhh….

  14. And that is why I didn’t ban pink from my daughter’s wardrobe. The last thing I need is an all out Barbie rebellion. I just keep telling myself that I wanted a pink frilly dress when I was little and I turned out just fine. *twitch*

  15. HaHaHa – oh, this is very good. And it’s just starting, your kids are still pretty young, right? My husband and I are pretty old compared to most of the people reading this blog – our kids are early 20’s now. And we’re educated and professional and all that but really old hippies at heart. Our oldest wore a fedora every day to first grade. He collected hats, and that was his favorite. He bought them with his tiny allowance, shopping at a vintage store a block from our house. His younger brother was a challenging boy to shop for, particularly at Christmas. He had no interest in toys. While his brother could make a Christmas list a mile long, our younger boy could never come up with any thing he wanted. He just said we should surprise him – although one year he finally had a wish – he wanted one of those hoops clowns wear in their pants. The funny thing is that now our oldest boy – the one with the fedora, is living in a circus tent in Venezuela and supporting himself by juggling machetes while riding a unicycle. His younger brother – the one who wanted the clown hoop for his pants is in business school. I guess my point is that raising children is an interesting ride. And by the way, I have probably mild PTSD from the older boy’s teenage years, which were challenging to say the least.

  16. My 12 year old asked for a TURTLE NECK SWEATER for Christmas. He even went so far as to convince my 8year old that turtle necks, are cool. I told him there was no Santa on the planet who would give such things and no child of mine will be caught dead in a turtle neck. The horror!

  17. ahh the blessings of parenthood… deflated boobs and then brooks bros children’s line. why didn’t someone warn us about this crap? i really think there should have been a warning in the ob’s office. good luck aunt becky!

  18. Aww Becky, this is toooooo funny! They have their own little ideas about style…..but Ben is still young….i bet it will change about a zillion times….enjoy the ride!

  19. We try to do a ‘pick between these mommy okayed outfits’ thing. He’s only 4, so we’re usually okay.. Until the time he was insisting on a suit. I offered the choice between khakis, undershirt, and a Spiderman Hawaiian style shirt (normally his fave outfit) and.. the tux from his grandparents vow renewal ceremony :twitch:

    Mommy fail.

    I swear, little dude is going to be like.. car salesman or CEO of some financial thing, and my missy will go to go to college on a cheerleadin scholarship just to make me pull out my hair.

  20. Oh! A ha ha ha ha! I hurt myself reading this!

    Back in the early 80s, when I was um … in grade 9, I went through a phase where I only wore business suits to school. With my Candy heels … somebody recently said, that’s okay, Karen, it was the Reagan years. Um … we’re in Canada? Aaaaaand I was the founder of the no nukes group in my school … you know, drawing posters of the Vancouver skyline with mushroom clouds overhead?

    I almost busted my gut laughing at this : “NO CHILD OF MINE WILL GO OUT DRESSED LIKE THAT.” and then the flounce. Yummy.

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