My Nine-Year-Old Thinks I’m Cringey

Honestly, I thought I had longer to fly under the embarrassment radar.

I throw on a pair of ripped jeans, an oversized vintage college football sweatshirt, and a pair of old school white sneakers. I am a way cooler version of myself now than I was when I was actually supposed to be cool, and I know it. As far as thirty-eight-year-old moms go, I think I can hold my own in the coolness game. I am up-to-date on current pop culture, I know enough about sports, and I never shop in the older woman’s section. So you may be shocked to find out that not only does my nine year old son not think I'm cool, he thinks I am — wait for it — cringey.

Cringey! Can you imagine?! I gasped the first time he said it. We were playing a game of horse (basketball) in the driveway and I hit a money shot (cool phrase). He looked over at me, obviously impressed, and I did what any self-respecting baller would do: I dabbed. You know, where you throw your head into the crook of your elbow with the other arm to the sky? Whatever, Google it. IT’S COOL. “Uhhh, no Mom. You’re so cringey.”

The word sent an electric shock through my veins. Weird, annoying, desperate — maybe. But cringey?!

And I have heard it many times since: when I dressed like a reindeer for the school holiday function, when I sang karaoke in the kitchen, and when I hit the griddy at a school assembly. But, come on! Has he seen some of the other moms? I mean, no offense ladies, but some of you look like you couldn’t name one Justin Bieber song. And isn’t that cringey?! I guess not.

Honestly, I thought I had at least a few more years of flying under the embarrassment radar before he called me out. I swear, not long ago everything I did was a wild success. He was my most captivated audience, smiling, laughing, and fully entertained with all of my efforts. But all of a sudden he has an awareness about him. He uses slang, laughs under his breath, and is acutely attuned to his surroundings. He is cool. And I, apparently, am not.

Somewhere between diaper changes and the walk to fourth grade, I became a social liability. And I am not exactly sure how to deal with that. I guess I have a few choices. I can sew up my ripped jeans, stop calling his friends “bro,” and lean into a more subtle, less desperate version of myself as we navigate this next phase of motherhood to avoid making him cringe. But that doesn’t feel authentic. I could also double-down on the desperation and start wearing NBA jerseys to drop off yelling “can I get a hoyaaa” out the window — but I think I have to save him a little dignity.

I think I will just continue being me. Even if it’s a little embarrassing. So what if I am a little cringe — there could be way worse things, right? And actually, I think my son is simply fulfilling his duty as offspring to make me feel like I am some kind of a burden to his vibe. It’s a parental right of passage, really — and I have arrived! I guess I will just make sure I don’t make too much of a fool out of myself, for his benefit. But I can’t make any guarantees.

Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.