I figure the statute of limitations on telling my most embarrassing moment has run its course, so maybe I can repeat the story with confidence knowing there will be no retribution by any parties involved. But as with anything in life, there are lessons to be learned from my mistakes….
I’ve been known to drop my children off at school carpool while I was still in my pajamas. Here is my flawed reasoning for doing so: We live very close to the school; I don’t wear scandalous pajamas; and I would never get out of the car (I prayed that the statistic where most accidents happen within five miles of your home was completely inaccurate). So, what’s the harm? Think cotton long pants and a long-sleeved top with penguins on them – that’s about as wild and crazy as my pjs get.
Anyway, I’m not totally stupid (the totally stupid part comes later), so when I pulled up to the middle school carpool line some seven years ago, I would pull up just a hair beyond the sight line of the teacher who was on carpool duty greeting the students as they got out of the car.
One morning, I must not have been on my A-game of trickery because when my son got out of the car in the carpool line, a male teacher got a bullseye view of me and my apparel. I immediately said, “Mr. Such and Such!!! I normally don’t wear my pajamas for drop-off!” He just looked at me like, “Right…”
Instead of learning my lesson and putting on normal person street clothes, I just thought I would be smarter and pull up further in the line the next morning. I’ll show ’em how it’s done.
Well, this worked for a couple of weeks, then I got busted AGAIN by the SAME teacher. I’m sure no amount of excuses would ever convince him that I would change my ways. But what I did learn was to put a jacket on OVER my pajama top the next time I drove the kids to school. Maybe anyone who saw me would just think I had terrible taste in clothes, as opposed to thinking I was wearing pajamas. God forbid I take the extra 30 seconds to put on real clothes. But, you know how it goes in the morning trying to get kids out of the house – every second is precious.
Fast forward about a month. I’m sitting in a parking spot at school in the afternoon waiting for my son and his buddy to come to my car when school was out. They hop in the car at the same moment I see the same male teacher walking across the parking lot towards my car. He is walking with three highly esteemed teachers in the school – whom I didn’t know personally, but had heard a lot about.
That’s when it happened.
I unrolled the window (mistake #1) and yelled (mistake #2) ” Hi Mr. Such and Such!! You finally get to see me with my clothes on!!!!” (Mistake #3 – #1,000,000)
Let that sink in for a minute.
I’m in the car with two 13-year-old boys (one being my son) and I’m YELLING out the window that it was great news that a male teacher (did I forget to mention he was one of my son’s teachers?!) was able to finally see me with my clothes on. Hmmmpf.
But I didn’t stop there. Apparently, I’m dumber than dirt.
As the well-respected teachers looked at me like they couldn’t believe we were breathing the same air, I felt the need to explain myself (this is where I should have just put the shovel down and quit digging). So I said, “No! Wait! HA! That came out wrong! I meant to say he normally sees me with my PAJAMAS on!” At this point, I think I blacked out.
After coming to, I realized that my mere presence was the problem, so I just slowly rolled the window up and watched the group walk away. My instinct was to call my husband and tell him to put a “for sale” sign in our front yard. I turned around in the car and saw my son’s friend laughing and my son with his head bowed and slowly shaking it. Of course, his friend could laugh, HE didn’t have me as his mother!
I could go on and on about what the next 6 years were like seeing this male teacher on a somewhat regular basis at school functions. I felt so bad about my comments that I went and found his wife and told her the story! She works at the school, too. Cozy, huh?
Just like so many things that happen in life, there’s always an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. And boy, have I given myself ample opportunity to learn.
Here’s what I learned, and what I want my kids to learn as they are about to all be out of the nest…do what your mama says below, kids. Learn from her mistakes.
4 Lessons I Want My Kids to Learn From MY Mistakes
1. Don’t take shortcuts when shortcuts can cost you.
If I had just taken the extra 30 seconds to put carpool-appropriate clothes on, none of this would have happened. Laziness is no excuse for taking a shortcut that can cost you big time in the end.
2. When in doubt, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.
I could have simply waved nicely to the teachers as they were walking across the parking lot. But, noooo. Once it’s out of your mouth, the damage is done. There is actually great truth to the old adage “think before you speak”. Try it out. My inability to keep my mouth shut embarrassed my son, who was 13 at the time. Couldn’t I have picked a better age than 13 to embarrass him!!!??
3. You only get to make a first impression ONCE (I know: blah, blah, blah).
Those teachers that I had never met will forever remember me being the idiot yelling insanity out the car window. Sure, I know them all now, but I bet it took some time for them to realize I wasn’t as crazy as they thought (fingers crossed on that one).
4. Just because you get away with something, it doesn’t mean you will get away with it every time (especially if it’s the wrong thing to do).
If you keep your heart tender, that still, small voice will let you know it’s the wrong thing to do. Listen to that still, small voice. It’s wiser than you realize. And be brave enough to stand up for what’s right. I knew there was something not right about me wearing pj’s to carpool…
Praise the Lord that the male teacher didn’t have a smart phone in his hand where he could have really busted me. The current generation of teens have a whole new level of responsibility on their shoulders with the way mistakes can be forever memorialized.
So, to my children I say what my dad said to me over and over as I was growing up: do what’s right and don’t do what’s wrong. Simple and profound, yet hard to do sometimes.
But it helps if you start out with the right clothes on.
Julie Wiesen is a wife to a great guy who is her complete opposite. She is the mother to three teens, whom she not only loves, but likes a whole lot. She loves to nest, cook and write about real life. Adjusting to life with one less bird in the nest caused her to start a blog – www.leavingthelighton.com.