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MARY-JANE DUNCAN: So now I cause my kids second-hand embarrassment? That’s a thing?

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The kids have announced they have ‘second-hand embarrassment’.  Caused by us.  Am I the only person that didn’t know this was a thing?

Yet another thing on the already extensive list of parental dos and don’ts.  Don’t speak to my pals.  Don’t you like my friends enough to say hello?  Just drop me round the corner.  What do you mean you won’t take me right to the door?  The list goes on but now I have SECOND-HAND EMBARASSMENT to contemplate too.

It’s bad enough I do something directly to mortify them, apparently, I can enhance this by their disapproval of something done even when not in their company!

Who knew embarrassing a teenager could be so complicated?

What are the rules?  Who decides thresholds?  Is there a book to read, a podcast to download, a website or a blog to visit?  Surely a Ted Talk?  The Idiots Guide to Parenting?  Memoires of a Granny?  Fifty shades of Getting it Wrong?

Nope and even that’s wrong!  Learning these days should be done from Tik Tok, but what’s the account name?  Doesn’t anyone know David Attenborough?  Please implore him to do a documentary on these feral, fickle beasts?

Some genius accounts exist on social media platforms discussing parenting gaffs and challenges.  The difference is they also give out advice.  Answer queries.  Extend to followers some golden nuggets containing intelligent solutions.

Where I’m a self-confessed over-sharer swinging between pride and despair, these guys take their experiences, and turn it into a supportive, sharing environment.  People hide behind user names and sympathise or share stories to ‘out embarrass’ each other.

I read and absorb without daring to share.  I shame our gang of three enough by writing this column.

MJ’s capacity to embarrass her kids is apparently huge.

Eldest kid had three days’ training at her new job, I dropped her off the appropriate distance away but made her take too much stuff.  Middle kid managed to completely destroy me at our new board game.  (I say ‘new’ but we’ve had it since Christmas and the dining table hasn’t been clear enough to play it till yesterday).

Littlest kid was bought a pair of trousers that didn’t make her look like she was sucking a lemon – a sign of approval right there.

I truly believed I was doing well this week!  We’re busy trying to reopen the business and the kids are back at school full time (hallelujah).  The hell that is school washing and packed lunches feels like it never stopped.

Potentially the MOST explosive question ever asked by a parent of their offspring is ‘are you ready for school in the morning?’  The reply is like a slickly rehearsed chorus.  Perfectly synchronised eye rolls, and shared knowing looks swiftly follow.  Of course we’re ready for school! Sheesh <insert another eye roll here>.

Ah yes. The teenage eye roll…

Why is it then, every single Monday morning is spent trying to find a Spanish jotter or some missing part of a PE Kit or ironing blouses?  The willingness to believe them is a fault on my part, or at least reluctance to challenge them.

Short of getting them to sleep in their school uniforms or present the contents of their bags I decide to choose my battles and continue to believe them.  And who ate all the snacks I bought for the school lunches?  You’ve nobody to blame but yourselves for only having apples for lunch.

How did I manage to achieve ‘second-hand embarrassment’ with minimal effort?  It was a multi-tier offence apparently.

I tried talking some gentle politics with eldest.  She’s come of age and May 6 will be her first time being able to vote.  Our postal votes are through.  I was surprisingly proud of her first ballot form being completed.  I wanted to encourage her to make up her own mind, form her own views, regardless of ours.  Without missing a beat, she reminded me she was currently studying politics.  Aye, okay then, just remember to put the right address to the front.  That was my brilliant recovery.

Secondly, I put a photo of myself and the mister on Facebook and mentioned what a great guy he was.  This seemingly most heinous of crimes ever is never to be repeated.

At least I didn’t tag them in it, only because their privacy settings purposefully prevent me from doing so.  They’re not daft.