Stop checking out my son!


So I’m walking in the mall with the teenage son, as you do. I believe it was a new shoe mission, or similar. Blah blah, please don’t ask for the shiny church shoes or the ugly grandpa ones because there’s no way I’m buying those they’re hideous blah blah etc.

Slowly I become aware of people staring our way. Of the odd double-take. Of near fatal trolley collisions, as shoppers crash into mannequins and each other, distracted … by what?

Naturally my first assumption is that I’ve left the zip down again, or put on the holey pants by accident.  And surely my hair wasn’t all THAT bad when I left the house?

But my assumptions would prove incorrect. Except the one about the hair.

Two things begin to dawn on me.

One: all the staring folk are female.

Two: they’re so NOT looking at me.

They’re looking at the young man walking next to me. Oh duh. Panic.

Idiot mother. I stop yapping and take a step back, trying to avoid stepping within the Checking Out radius. Mothers caught within this range are instantly vaporised. Or they should be, for being unforgivably oblivious. Yet another of those important things they never mention in the parenting books. What to do? Don’t want to be in the way (or get vaporised) but somebody has to pay for the damn shoes.

After my  initial surprise and irritation with myself for failing to notice that he’d grown up while I was browsing the handbags, I gather some perspective. All is normal, all is fine, it’s really quite nice for him, yes?

Who’s ogling my teen?

The teen girls I can deal with. Them skinny, slopey-shouldered creatures peeking out from under their hair-curtains, carefully cultivated ‘I’m so over this’ expressions slipping a bit. Very few smiles – it’s a tough gig, eternal coolness.

There are also a few younger girls, travelling in packs and still 2 years away from learning how to suppress the giggle-reflex. They’re sweet and cute and I like them best. I’m probably the only one.

And then… What’s this?  Yes indeed, that tall blonde who appears closer to my age than his was also having a peek. More of a bold ogle really, the brazen hussy. Ack! Awkward.

I’ve noticed waitresses and cashiers also come over all funny on occasion and I just don’t know where to put my face. When she gets all googly-eyed and starts dropping drinks, it’s not as if I can just duck into the cat food aisle and escape.

As much as they (the googler and the google-ee) are aware of the proverbial elephant in the room (hellooo, that’s me over here!), the elephant would rather stick pins in her eyes than watch her baby elephant be flirted with. The elephant would prefer to be on Mars just then, thanks.

I have no idea of the etiquette here. Thanks again for that, Parenting Experts of the world, you’ve been so helpful .

After some thought, I appear to have three choices.

One: never venture out in public with him again. Not really practical and somebody has to save him from poor footwear decisions, because seriously, those shiny white pointy things are not a good look.

Two:  turn into an unapologetically thick-skinned future monster-in-law and scare away all the brazen hussies.

Or… sigh…. Option three.

Be awkward, try to avoid getting in the way but know that all is normal and just wait for it to be over?

That’s the one, I guess.

What do you do when strangers check out your teen?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht

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