L. has always had a deep fear of being embarrassed. I'm not sure why, because we have never set out to embarrass him--not on purpose, of course. He will often react quite violently to the fear of embarrassment, whether it's perceived, or real. Because he's a big middle schooler now, he's imposed a new rule that we must keep conversation very minimal and light as we approach the school. If the windows are up, we can fudge this rule a little, but as soon as we cross into the school property part of the carpool line, we have to keep converstaion VERY limited.
The other day he told me he needed to have a "talk" with me and he asked me to please not embarrass him by saying "goodbye honey," or, god forbid, "good bye love," as he gets out of the car. No one is in ear shot, of course, but the rule still stands. So now, as we loop around the long morning carpool line and pull up in front of the school I say a very casual, "bye L., see you later today," and he pulls open the car door and nods goodbye (very officially) and he's off, stumbling under the weight of his backpack, into school. I have to work hard to remind myself that this is the same child who had so much trouble separating from us at drop-off, and who we would walk into school each morning until the end of third grade.
And I drive off, wanting to feel a little sad about our brief goodbyes, but instead, feeling oh so happy and relieved inside.
The carpool line at L.'s school is such (very, very long) that you have to drive past the school entrance on the other side of the road before you can loop around and get to the side closest to the doors. Only then can you pick up your kid because, obviously, it would be dangerous if your kid tried to head across the other line of cars to get to you. Sometimes a parent or two will spot their kid outside the school, roll down their window, and try and call out to them, to get their attention, so that they'll be ready to hop into the car when they do pull up. I've never done this because I just know it would embarrass L. to no end to have me yelling his name out in front of everyone.
But yesterday, as I waited at the front of the line for L. to emerge from the school doors, a dad in the far lane leaned out his window and yelled, very loudly:
"Hey Mason! Mason! Mason F."
All the kids out in front of the school stopped talking and turned to look. Mason F. shifted uncomfortably in his sneakers and turned to look, as well.
"You have an orthodontics appointment this afternoon," the dad bellowed. "ORTHODONTICS!"
Poor Mason. Obviously he and his dad need to have The Talk.