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Published January 30, 2012, 11:30 PM

Tofflemire: The ages of cool - or not

My daughter is a cool mom, or so she says. She likes to interact with her sons’ friends and believes they find her entertaining.

By: Kathy Tofflemire, INFORUM

My daughter is a cool mom, or so she says. She likes to interact with her sons’ friends and believes they find her entertaining.

I’m not really in a position to judge. I’m a lot of things, but cool isn’t one of them.

But is it possible to be cool enough that you are not an embarrassment to your tweens or teens?

It seems that from the age of around 12 until maybe 18, parents are people you just can’t take out in public.

My daughter adds an “r” to the end of my older grandson’s name as a term of endearment. In the privacy of their home, that’s fine. But yelling it across the baseball diamond or the football field will earn her a dirty look you can read from yards away.

And to add insult to injury, his baseball teammates started using the name last summer, although I don’t think they were necessarily teasing him.

When he started playing basketball in December, she was specifically instructed by him not to “alter” his name when yelling encouragement.

My daughter points out that it could be worse. What if he had grown up with her calling him “pooky-bear” or “shnookums”? My pet name for her as an infant was “Tootles.” I have no idea why.

I don’t think my grandson is yet making his mother drop him off down the block from school on the days he doesn’t take the bus, but there definitely will be no public displays of affection. PDAs do seem to be allowed, however, after a well-played game.

I have been talking some lately about retiring in a few years. I observed that I could then spend more time with my grandsons.

“Cool,” said the older one.

“My dear boy,” I responded. “You will be 16 years old. The last thing you are going to want to do is spend time with your grandmother.”

But I think grandparents aren’t quite as embarrassing as parents are, for some reason. Maybe we get a pass based on elderliness

I’m not so old, though, that I don’t remember those feelings of embarrassment. One incident in particular is seared in my memory.

I, age 13 or so, and my parents were attending a church supper. We were seated at a table with fellow parishioners, and the meal was being served family-style. As the dishes of food were being brought to the dining room, my father said, “Oh, good, here come the vittles.”

I was positively mortified. I was sure our tablemates thought we’d just come from the Ozarks, probably second cousins to the Clampetts and maybe had a “ce-ment pond” in our backyard. I wanted to crawl under the table.

And eventually those tables turn. …

The first year that we lived in Connecticut, my then 16-year-old daughter came back to Fargo for Christmas.

Upon her return, I was to pick up her boyfriend before going to the airport. She warned him that I would try to be amusing during the drive and that he should just deal with her embarrassing mother as best he could.

See, I wasn’t cool.

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum.

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