Lost in the Parking Lot, Parenting Realization Sinks In

As we walked away from the sea of cars and into an even bigger sea of people, I realized I hadn’t taken note of where we parked. Hmm. “We crossed over one grassy median and then up onto the sidewalk past another lot. We’ll find it,” I thought. And I figured we would find our van. When I’m alone, I rely on my memory to bail me out. For as much of a planner as I am, I can be remarkably spontaneous when it comes to finding my way.

After our day at the zoo, the kids and I made our way back into the parking lot. It was much more crowded than when we arrived. We made our way to where I was sure I had left our van, only it wasn’t there. My daughter piped up with her mental notes. “We walked four rows,” she said. “We’re not here. We’re over there.” While I still pondered why my vehicle wasn’t in the row I was sure I parked it in and began to wonder whether it had been stolen, my son had an obvious solution. “Just hit your remote button, Mom.” And that’s when I realized I can’t pass for a figure-things-out-as-you-go kind of mom if my kids are the ones figuring it all out.

We walked a few rows over and my daughter was right. Our van was across another median, four rows of cars.

I thought about this on the drive home. No wonder the kids roll their eyes at me, especially my son. When they’re young, the kids put us parents up on a pedestal. They think we know everything and I certainly never told them otherwise. If my son started asking about planets or primates, I regurgitated every random fact I knew. What I didn’t know, I Googled and told him later. I was a bit of a show-off. And then around third grade, my son started to doubt me. He started to think his teachers knew more about his favorite book characters. He didn’t believe I could help him with grammar, even though my job is correcting others’ mistakes. Then he started to believe his friends. He’d believe things that came out of their mouths over mine.

Now my kids see me do stupid things like forgetting where I parked the car. So they know I don’t have all the answers, I can live with that. But the time is near when they’ll think they know more than me. If you’ve ever heard a ten-year-old explain life at the dinner table, you know you can’t afford to lose that credibility.

While I thought I could redeem myself after the parking lot incident, I took the wrong road out of the zoo and ended up on some rural back roads. The kids would have never known, but while I was recalculating my kids’ perception of me, that cocky GPS navigator was loudly recalculating every wrong quarter mile–increment I sped away from her intended route.

My kids know I’m human. And I knew I couldn’t stay on the parenting pedestal forever. But I just can’t lose points in parking lots.



Filed under Everyday Life

31 responses to “Lost in the Parking Lot, Parenting Realization Sinks In

  1. I sympathize with you. I’ve been in that situation, and more! Such are the perils of getting old indeed.

  2. I was just having this conversation on Twitter with someone–how now that I have two teenage sons, I apparently will never be right again (even if I am). And as you point out, making one little mistake just reconfirms in their minds that they’re smarter than us. 🙂

  3. I’ve done this so many times. Pink flag on the aerial? And I’d be lost without my SatNav. My son constantly says ‘mum are you SURE you know where you’re going?’. Most of the time the answer is no 😉

    • I could get something eye-catching. I’m not sure it would have helped in this parking lot though. I’m also pretty anal about always parking in the same areas in parking lots. At the zoo on a busy day, you better take note!

  4. Wait till they start driving. Nobody is smarter than a 16 year old behind the wheel. Sigh.

  5. I have the worst memory of anyone I know. 😦 Especially with things like where I parked! I recently got an app on my smartphone for finding where you parked your car, but unfortunately, I never think to set the GPS when I’m at the car, only when I realize I don’t know where I parked, and then it’s too late! :/ At least you have two smart kids with great memories to help you out, right?

    • I didn’t know there was such a thing. I may have to resort to that if it keeps happening. Nothing worse than trying to look like you know exactly why you are weaving through cars in a parking lot.

  6. I suppose this is the natural order of things. It’s good too, the older and more senile I get, the more my kids will have to take care of me, it all works out. Still, I’ve lost my car many times when I’m alone, it’s pretty embarrassing.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful post. Sometimes as parents when we are so busy trying to have all the answers that we forget that all our children need from us is to be their answer. As long as they feel that we are there for them, through the good, the bad and the ugly, they will forgive our mistakes…even if it means having to walk home because Mom forget where she parked the car!

  8. dang gps! and i know exactly what you mean. i’m right there with you. although, i don’t think remembering where the car is in a parking lot is an indicator of anything. i’ve seen many a manly man and pretty young thing lose their way in the parking lot twilight zone

    • I think it was just another case of my kids showing they know something, and this time they did know more than me! And I’ve seen lots of people wandering aimlessly through parking lots. I always think, “I hope I don’t look that goofy when it happens to me.” I guess I did.

  9. Lisa

    I haven’t even tried to look intelligent in front of my kids. I’ve zipped out that cell phone and googled most anything for the past couple of years now. And I wish we had your kids with us a couple of years ago when we couldn’t find our car in the Walt Disney World parking lot. Twenty minutes at midnight with tired children.

    • Midnight. Disney. The worst. If I had a phone, I’d be doing that too. My flip phone doesn’t allow me to Google anything at a moment’s notice. Maybe that’s my problem.

  10. I so clearly remember laughing at my Mum for her inability to work modern (back then) electronics and now that’s me! How humiliating to have to call for a teenager because you can’t get a picture on the TV.

    • Oh, so funny! And how could I forget? My husband and I have been both scratching our heads at our kids’ abilities with PowerPoint after we had a go of it. Yes, my kids will have to help with me any tech stuff, I’m sure. Soon.

  11. So true! I feel like I’m teetering on the parent pedestal already. And I’m going to fall hard. It was so nice to have one person truly believe I am infallible.

  12. I think I still know enough for my 6 year old (except about his cartoons) but my 9 year old has caught on. There are still some topics that he considers me an expert. I’ll take it.
    P.S. I am so bad at finding the car in a parking lot. It takes so much of my mental energy. Luckily my wife and children are no better so I come off looking wise.

  13. I’m reading this again. I have so many moments that make my kids roll their eyes at me, it’s not even funny. Mom screws up a lot over here. But what they really learn is how I HANDLE it when I do. I hope they’re watching that part.

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