Several years ago when I was speaking at a MOPS group, the ice-breaker question was “tell about your most embarrassing moment.” As the speaker, it was not enough to spill that moment to my table only. The group (about 200 ladies) determined I should tell it to everyone. Actually, I could have chosen among several parental moments, but I chose one which made me the winner, if anyone really wants to be the winner in a most embarrassing moment contest.
So, as today is National Awkward Moments Day, I shall tell it here. I’m pretty sure the other two stories that come to mind might have been winners too, but one I’ll save for another time, and the other I won’t tell to protect the guilty.
Any harried mom could have done it. Standing in Target, in the long customer service line, with a baby in arms and two bored preschoolers hovering wasn’t the beginning of a good afternoon anyway. When preschoolers get bored, positive things rarely happen, unless they are preschoolers in a 50’s sitcom. Or in a commercial for Mormonism. With two preschoolers who made Ty Pennington look like Walter Cronkite, a “positive thing” for that line marathon would have been just staying within ten feet of me and keeping all their clothes on.
Instead, they decided that the bridal registry kiosk looked interesting. They played on it, pushing the little computer buttons and no doubt registering some poor bride for fifteen lime green bathroom sets before I stopped them. Three times I told them to stop. Three times they went back. Finally, my attention having been called elsewhere by the baby, I looked up to see them at the kiosk again, happily punching buttons. I lost it, grabbed them both by the arm, and began hauling them off to another area for a good talking to. This was when a strange woman started running after me, yelling very loudly, “Stop! What are you doing with my daughter???”
Yes, her child wore a plum coat the precise shade and style as my oldest child’s, and she had the same just-past-the-shoulders brown hair. Since I had grabbed them from the back, I did not notice until I heard the yelling that this child’s frightened face did not resemble my daughter’s. Meanwhile, my oldest was innocently standing at the customer service counter chatting up the employees, as if she had been doing that all along, having left the bridal kiosk for more interesting territory. Of course, no one in the entire customer service area thought anything was more interesting at the moment than me, with my red face, wide eyes, and flustered apologies.
The other mom was not particularly interested in hearing my good excuse for child napping, so we just exited with whatever dignity I had left, which was pretty much none. I did learn a lesson, which I used in subsequent MOPS talks about anger management. The nice thing about embarrassing moments is, when you’re a speaker and a writer, anything is good fodder for a story. Even if, and perhaps especially if, the joke is on you.
So the question on National Awkward Moments Day is, can you top that? Or just chime in with your most awkward moment. To paraphrase one of our great statesman, it is often better for us all to hang together. At least we feel better, knowing it is not ever just us.