Sometimes your first impression is as a giant booger slug.
Our church is overly friendly, which is an excellent quality in a church. We take saying hi to a new level, which makes you feel fabulous and welcome to the party, but when you’re presenting as a giant booger, it can be a bit overwhelming.
Yesterday was really rainy, so Alex dropped us off under the canopy to preserve A–‘s tiny new wedge heels. You don’t know precarious until you watch a nine-year-old wobble around in the wedge heels she fell in love with at Rack Room.
The first wave of the friendly welcomers opened my van door for me, which I immediately slammed shut to keep the trash on the floorboard from falling out. Classy. As the line of cars behind us piled up, I used hand motions like I was landing a plane to coax the kids out of the van and onto the sidewalk. We “Hey you’ed” and waved at the gauntlet of friendly people and as we crossed the threshold into the church lobby, my son sneezed.
Holding Evie’s hand and working our way toward the preschool area, I heard A– chanting my name behind me. “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Elliott BOO-GAHRS!” Boo-gahrs? Boo-gahrs. Boo-gahrs. My brain was trying to do that accent translation thing that it does to account for a daughter caught between two languages.
I noticed that all the happy greeters in the lobby looked a little extra happy, like maybe they’d morphed from smiling at us to laughing at us.
You know that thing when you don’t want to turn around and look because then it won’t be real, but you know you have to, because you’re the parent and responsible for these oozing little wackadoodles? I turned, in slow motion, to look at Elliott.
A yellow booger slug was hanging out of his nose down to his lip. It was roughly the size of a panther.
His eyes widened, and he knew he shouldn’t slurp it into his mouth. We’ve talked about this. So he raised his sleeve to catch the caterpillar as I yelled, “Noooooo!” He froze with his sleeve on the booger and looked at me like “I’m accepting alternative ideas, Mom.”
Dragging Evie behind me while A– wobbled in her heels like a little drunken pixie, I coaxed Elliott toward the bathroom, instructing him to find some toilet paper while I checked the kids into their classes. As he came back to me, I realized that all this had gone down in the lobby of the church. Our first impression for the morning, a shuffling, yelling, conga line of chaos.
We will never be cool.
We are loud, argumentative, and rippling with bodily functions. My kids think it’s hilarious to fart on someone and run away. I cannot stop this. I’ve tried.
First impressions happen all the time. Meeting a new friend for a playdate. Introducing yourself to a new co-worker. Showing up for a doctor appointment. If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time trying to convince people that you have your stuff together. Although, if you’re like me, you’re running out of energy and caring about the facade less and less.
When you have kids, you have your own first impressions, plus you have their first impressions to worry about. And second, third, fourth, fifth impressions.
This morning, I realized too late that my oldest daughter forgot to do her math homework. I’m still getting used to having a child old enough to have homework, and she’s still getting used to the way we do school around here. My youngest daughter refused to wear anything other than her too-tight sparkly princess shoes on the wrong feet. And my son, well, he has his boogers.
I make it all about myself. What will the teachers think of me that she doesn’t have her homework done? What will the teachers think of me that my daughter is wearing those shoes that way? What will the people at church think of me as my son’s gross panther booger slinks down his face?
Note to self: it’s soooo not about me.
I find as a parent that I run around feeling nervous about my own stuff and nervous about my kids being themselves, like I think the whole world is staring at us waiting for us to mess up. It’s not. No one cares. We’re all too worried about making our own good impressions to notice if someone else’s isn’t perfect.
Our first impression will always be impressively embarrassing, but I think I kind of love that about my kids, you know? Boogery, flatulent, loud-mouthed embracers of life.
All hail the mismatched shoes, the uncontrollable bodily fluids, and the imperfect performances. To psycho tantrums in the parking lot, we say, “Come get some.” You do not scare us, screaming contest and biting toddler.
Here’s to all our impressions today. May they be larger than life.
And maybe keep a tissue in your purse.
**When I googled “yellow booger slug,” I discovered that the banana slug (featured above), is the mascot of the University of California Santa Cruz. I will be requesting an admissions packet for Elliott. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_California,_Santa_Cruz