816 North

August 6, 2013

Susan Vollenweider | Step away from the awkward

“It’ll be fun, a new experience,” I encouraged.

“It’ll be fun, a new experience,” I encouraged.

“I don’t know any of those bands. It’s going to be boring,” Bekah hesitated.

The image of the evening that was in my head began to dissipate and I struggled to re-form it into reality.

“Please? I’ve gone to plenty of concerts where I didn’t know the band. And,” I paused for dramatic effect, “you can watch old ladies make fools of themselves.”

“Sold. What does one wear to see 1980s boy bands?”

Way back in the late ’80s and early ’90s the three groups that we were going to see had throngs of teen girls screaming as only teen girls can do. One of my friends had two extra tickets, and kindly asked us to join her and her 21-year-old daughter.

While my teen years had predated the popularity of these boys, now grown to men, the other oh-so-temping option for the evening was watching “Drop Dead Diva.” DVRable TV show or a Mother Daughter Times Two adventure? Too easy.

On the night of the concert we carpooled like a passenger mullet: mom-wear in the front, black eye-lined daughters in the back.

We hit no traffic.

We scored an easy-exit Power Light parking spot.

Then Bekah began to feel awkward.

“Mom. I’m 16. This is a bar.”

“No,” I said as we settled into seats, “technically it’s a bar SLASH restaurant.”

She sent a text.

“Who to?” I asked.

“Dad. I told him you had me in a bar.”

“He won’t believe you,” I said as her phone dinged back.

“He says, ‘ha ha good one.’”

I would like to say my Mama Knows Best look helped her shed her uncomfortable mood. But, no.

She didn’t shed it when we were told that we couldn’t sit in our original seats.

She didn’t shed it when we were ushered down to upgraded seats on the floor.

She didn’t shed it when she realized that she, who knew no music from any of the bands, was sitting three rows from the stage.

I understood when I put myself in her shoes: How would I feel as the youngest person around, surrounded by thousands of women who looked an awful lot like my mom, and oh, hey, there is


mom screaming at Nick Lachey?


But then — magic. In mere minutes I witnessed her pulling herself out. She realized she felt awkward, but didn’t want to. She let herself live in the moment, absorb the mood around her and was quickly dancing and screaming, too.

Several days after the show, the tables turned.

As a special treat during band camp (yes, it’s a real thing) one of the families invited the entire marching band for a pool party and I volunteered to chaperone.

Bekah was skeptical.

I reassured her. “I won’t wear a swimsuit. You won’t even know I’m there.”

I avoided the swimsuit awkward, but that didn’t stop me from having to face another mom who I owed an apology to.


Later as I sat talking with a charming teen boy, I realized that he was looking for an escape. What teenage boy wants to be talking to a mom when there are friends, and friends in bikinis, nearby?



Sitting alone, watching a swim party as the matron on the side I remembered Bekah out of her element at the concert, had newfound appreciation for her, and shed my awkward.

Feeling awkward isn’t the end of the road, and it might feel like the hardest thing to do to overcome it, but taking it step-by-step helped us both shed it.

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