Confessions of a Totally Cool Mom

By Nancy Kennedy

I used to wear the right clothes. Cuffed my jeans JUST so. Sported spiky hair. I was a totally cool Mom. My daughter adored me.

Now all that's changed. Not my clothes or hair. What's different is my daughter's a teenager.

I first noticed my loss of status the day we went back-to-school shopping at the mall. Alison walked two store-lengths in front of me, muttering, "How could she? How could she?" It seems I had made the mistake of announcing to "EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE STATE" that she needed new underwear. Actually, all I did was shout across the store, "I'll meet you in lingerie." I was in housewares and she was looking at shoes.

I didn't know it would be such a big deal. But let me warn you, to a teen-age girl, underwear IS a big deal.

Nobody told me. Just like nobody told me that moms aren't supposed to meet their daughters at the school-bus stop. Excited to hear about her first day of high school, I waited with Alison's little sister, Laura. That was my first mistake. Waving as the bus came around the corner was my second. My biggest blunder, though, was calling out, "Hi (NICKNAME)." I'd tell you what it is except I promised never, EVER, to repeat it in public.

Imagine my surprise when Alison got off the bus, turned and walked away from me, muttering, "How could she? How could she?" I had to chase her all the way home.

"How would you like it if you were my age and Grandma met you at the bus stop?" she cried once I caught up with her.

I shuddered. My mom? At the bus stop? I'd DIE. "But I'm different," I told her. "I'm cool." She looked at me and rolled her eyes. That's when the light bulb went on. I'm NOT different - and I'm NOT cool anymore.

The list of my transgressions is long. I told the mother of the boy she likes (in front of Alison) I thought her son was handsome. Not only that, I invited them to watch home videos of our trip to Disney World.

I had her paged at K-Mart.

I drove up to the drive-through at Burger King in my bathrobe. It was dark and nobody saw me and Alison stayed home, but she still accused me of humiliating her.

Recently, I polled a panel of experts on FCMs (Formerly Cool Moms). Actually, it was a group of high-school girls at the mall for whom I offered to buy french fries and soda if they'd tell me how to be cool again. Here's what they said:

RULE 1: Be nice to your daughter's friends, but don't ask them questions. Never sing in their presence. And don't dance.

RULE 2: Never mention personal items in public. Go ahead and buy her underwear and deodorant, but NEVER say who it's for. Play it safe - shop at least 50 miles from home.

RULE 3: Never use the current slang. Even if something is ABSOLUTELY TO DIE FOR, don't say so. Never say "far out" or "with it." Never, EVER, say "groovy."

RULE 4: Keep the closet stocked with clothes your daughter can wear, but don't wear them yourself. You'll look as if you're trying to dress like her.

RULE 5: When asked for your totally honest opinion about her hair, weight, clothes, nose size or pimples, don't say, "I'm your mother - I love you just the way you are." That's the Mister Rogers reply.

RULE 6: Don't sport a "Honk if you love easy listening" bumper sticker. Don't honk at anyone else's bumper sticker. Don't honk, period. Don't drive past anyone who might know your daughter. Be invisible.

There's no guarantee you'll regain coolness by following these rules. Chances are, no matter what you do, you'll always be uncool.

But if there's any justice in the world, one day your daughter will have daughters of her own - and discover she isn't so cool either.