My 10 year old didn’t want me to come on the big field trip this year, which is fine because I didn’t want to be on a stupid bus anyway.

At least that’s what I told myself. He’s still all snuggles at home, despite the legs and knees and elbows and sweaty head. But the hug in the parking lot after school is gone and he often walks ahead of his little brother and me. It’s part of life, I know, and I’m mostly fine with it.

I’m a little over the top with kids. I can admit this. I blame my many years in the classroom at the high school and community college. You have to let go of embarrassment to perform every day for hundreds of uninterested young folks. After that, elementary kids are easy, since they think everything is funny.

Imagine my surprise when my big kid told me all his friends love me. I felt like Miss America. Mostly because I was wearing a bra that day. And also, because I was happily shocked. It was so unexpected, did I even deserve such an honor? Was there some mistake?

“They think you’re awesome,” he told me. My face was frozen in a wide grin, wide enough to make a person think maybe Botox was on sale at Target. He wasn’t mad about it at all. He thought it was great.

Frankly, I want the classmates to think I’m great. And not just because I’m pushing 40 and work from home and maybe need to meet more people. These peers spend as much time with my child as I do – if you don’t count the hours when he should be sleeping in his own room but he’s not. 

I want to know what’s going on. I want to get the scoop from the fast kid, the one who zooms around the field. I want to hear about the kid always creating drama. I even want these loud, stinky, dorky people to come to my house.

That’s the only thing I know about raising kids: you got to be there.

I won’t bore you with tales about pregnant 9th graders and all that. And I know you can’t protect your kids from everything (most things). But you can know what’s going on. You can know when change is afoot, when a new crowd is the topic of conversation, when someone drops off the radar. And you can feed kids so you know they’re in a house with supervision. Yours. 

I may be cool but I’m still not going to the end of the year pool day. That sounds like a watery hell. I’ll say hi to Cesar and Yeshua and Celeste and Samantha when I see them — at the movies, after school, at the fair, or wherever. I want them, and my kids, to know there’s nowhere to hide. In the best possible, least creepy way. 

We’re all in this life thing together. We have to use the skills we’ve got to care for our kids. I’m trying to use my weird humor to make them tell me who brought a beer to the sleepover. Whatever your skills are, use them. Let them know adults are out there rooting for them.

Hell, one of these kids is going to being my cardiologist someday, I figure I better get on her good side now and start building our relationship.