I HAD always promised myself as a kid that, as a grown-up, I'd be cool. More than that, I promised myself that, as a parent, I'd be cool, that I would just 'get' it and that I would never ever be an embarrassment to my offspring.
Being embarrassed by your parents was a big thing. For me, anyway. Not that my parents were particularly embarrassing. They weren't at all. Their only sin was that I was a teenager and they were my parents. I remember my mother having to come to the school at one time and once I got over the initial panic, I swiftly jumped to damage limitation and laid out the clothes I best thought would minimise the cringe factor of her coming. When she arrived on the appointed day, I was impressed and relieved that she complied with my wishes; she wore the red cocktail dress I had chosen, the silver three inch sandals and a bright red lipstick I had unearthed. The fact that she suspended her own embarrassment to save mine at being dressed like a lady of the night at 10 o'clock in the morning tells you more about the mother I was blessed with than any deluded sense of style I may have had.
Therefore, it was with huge dismay and bitter disappointment that I found myself turn into a creature of the highest embarrassing order when my first-born deigned to go to his first disco. I failed at the first hurdle. His plan was to meet 'the lads' near Eddie Rockets. According to urban legend this is dangerous territory. It is what they get up to before the 'do' that is the bogey man in the shadows and just because my first-born is male and therefore not socially pressurised to emulate a stilt-wearing skirtless Marbella-tanned wannabe supermodel, doesn't mean the fear is any less gripping.
So I drop him off, adopting a coolness that my teenage self would be proud of but who would never understand the tsunami brewing inside. What am I doing? Delivering my baby into the claws of a beast that is laughing at the middleaged woman I have become. So, I don't go home. I drive around the block and just like one of those '70s cop shows, I pull over, kill the lights and observe. Only, I'm not very good at it because I get a call from my son demanding in horror "what are you doing, Mom?" Caught red handed! But then he said those awful words "you're embarrassing me" The red dress my mother once wore flashes through my mind. start the car; put my fear behind me and my trust in my son to the fore. I apologise to a boy who is only doing what he should be doing and as I drive away into the night, I apologise again – this time to the child I once was for a promise broken.