News and Tribune

August 13, 2013

BEAM: The red-faced rules of a tiny tyrant

Local columnist

— A new set of rules have been established in the Beam household. Although spoken solemnly in a middle-school car rider line, these fixed guidelines rival even the 95 theses of Martin Luther in terms of gravity.

No nails or excommunications have yet been required for their posting. But of course, a 10-year-old like mine would most likely choose chewed gum to tack them to the door instead.

You see, my oldest son has dictated some mighty strange instructions to me because he claims that I embarrass him.

For a good half an hour last week, he listed all the reasons why. It seems I think I’m humorous when I’m really not. Shocking, I know. Not that that’s enough, this mama also reveals too many awkward stories and, most egregiously, suffers from a case of being universally uncool.

Funny stuff coming from a kid who wears long basketball shorts with socks up to his knees, and at times an off-centered hat.

To remedy matters, our little Napoleon thus decided to set me straight, especially when he graces my presence during the times I volunteer in his middle-school class.

“You can’t talk to me in front of anyone I don’t know,” Lord Beam decreed. “My friends know how you are. I’ve warned them. These kids don’t know about you yet.”

With those loving words, I was welcomed to the joys of parenting what people nowadays call a tween.

Continue to nod your heads and smile, oh ye mothers and fathers who have mastered this alien prepubescent world. Like all the parents and grandparents before us, you’ve survived this period of adolescent adversity and now can laugh at the follies of those of us who are just now entering the extraterrestrial terrain.

I, on the other hand, cannot even smirk. In fact, his response hurt and even made me mad. So mad, in fact, I did something I hate to do. I did research.

Seems there’s a whole lot of information for parents like me in the same sinking boat. Come to find out, though, most of the advice stinks as much as the fish surrounding the shipwreck.

Take a gander at the guidance that’s out there. A lot of it centers on how not to embarrass your kid.

Parents, we are the problem, not the child or his hormonal response to our everyday actions.

For instance, a certain blog stated that caregivers should heed their children’s clothing advice and consider changing their style to make the teenagers happy. Another one looked down upon correcting kids in front of their friends since it might hurt their feelings. And finally, this one is my favorite, it’s OK to drop your kid off a full three football fields away from their destination so the little titans won’t have to be seen with you, thus preserving their self-respect, social status and independence.

Would somebody please tell me exactly when it became OK for our children to take over our households and become little kings and queens of the family kingdom?  No need to follow the royal birth in England. Many of us have our own aristocracy right inside our own unmoated walls.

And the sad part about it is that quite a few of us don’t know have the knowledge or the courage to change it.

Lord knows I don’t, but I’m trying. Now I’m not changing my dress or how I behave. Our children need to accept people for their true selves — even when those people happen to be their embarrassing parents.

To reinforce this point, my arms zealously flailed about in spasm-like waves the next time I saw my son at school. Mortification can be a great life lesson. My mother taught me that on more than one occasion.

Anyway, rules are meant to be broken. At least, your own kid’s rules, that is. And if this continues I always have the naked bathtub baby photo as insurance.

Wonder what we could use to affix that to the front door for all to see?

— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at