When I saw a teenage boy walking his dog in the park, I did a double take, a triple take and then glanced in my rearview mirror as I drove past, just to be sure. The kid suffered from a startling wardrobe malfunction. Namely, his pants appeared to be falling off. I’ve seen plenty of baggy-jeaned teenagers, but this was one for the record books.
In an odd gravity-defying sort of way, the waist of his pants seemed to be suspended in midair at least 12 inches (that is not a typo) below where one would normally expect pant waists to sit. There was no rational explanation as to why his jeans didn’t simply fall to his ankles other than perhaps extra-strong double-sided tape at the extreme lower end of his stylish boxers, of which passers-by had full view.
Speaking of full view, I was fearful of the kind of exposure a front glance at the kid might offer.
About a second after I caught myself wondering what kind of a mom would let her kid out the door in such a get-up, I remembered Duran Duran.
It was my first concert, at age 15. My best friend and I had memorized every Duran Duran song ever recorded and were intent on showing John, Roger, Simon and Nick how excessively fond we were of them (of their music, I mean). Our concert attire was naturally super important, since it was the key to scoring backstage passes and possibly even meeting the band members.
We had perfectly realistic expectations.
My friend got to shop for her concert outfit. Having no such financial advantage, I was left to my own devices and whatever I could scrounge up around the house that looked sufficiently edgy.
Imagine our surprise when my friend and I didn’t get a single backstage pass offer or even a cat call as we climbed out of the back of my friend’s dad’s Cutlass. We both wore skinny jeans, big hair, bigger earrings and oversized shirts. To accessorize, my friend chose a vest. And for my edgy accessory, I had a black extension cord wrapped loosely around my waist a few times and plugged into itself directly above my left hip.
Regrettably, this is a true story.
Why my outfit didn’t at least turn a few heads was beyond me. In reality, though, it probably did — most likely from people wondering what kind of a mom would let her kid out the door in such a get-up.
I can answer that. My mom — the very same one who let me out the door rocking an extension cord — is one of the best moms in the universe. And for all I know, so is the baggy-jeaned kid’s mom. In fact, I’ve never met a mom I didn’t think was pretty terrific.
Despite our differences in religion, child-rearing philosophies and whether or not we work outside the home, we are all mothers. We worry, cry, lose sleep, laugh, pray, play and learn — all on account of our kids. Because we love them.
And at some point, we each experience that AHA moment when it becomes gut-wrenchingly clear that raising kids is a whole lot like nailing Jell-O to a wall.
These Jell-O moments alone should be enough to render any differences between moms insignificant.
So when I see kids suffering from wardrobe malfunctions or engaging in delinquent behavior, I remind myself that each one of those kids has a mom somewhere — and that I should think and act accordingly. Because the best gifts I have ever received as a mom are the intangible ones of empathy, tolerance and love that other adults have shown my own children.
Just the other day, I dropped my eighth-grade son off at school. As he exited the car, at least two inches of his plaid boxers were visible above the drooping waist of his basketball shorts. Thinking it unwise to yell “Pull up your pants!” out the car window into the throngs of middle school kids, I caught his eye and made hand gestures. He rolled his eyes, tugged his waist up a few centimeters and walked into school.
That kid has a mom somewhere. And I love him.
And on the very bright side, at least he wasn’t wearing an extension cord.