Any of yphoto(75)ou who have tween daughters are familiar with the fact that–all of a sudden–if you inhale air within 15 feet of them in front of their friends you are “So not cool, Mom.”

(Yeah, cuz I was totally trying to be extra cool in the way I didn’t let my cells die by depriving them of oxygen. Whatever. Dealing with tweens makes it really hard not to start talking like one, which of course is the MOST embarrassing thing you could do. See: “Mom, no one SAYS that.”)

And if you so much as EXhale (let alone say hello to a friend of theirs at drop off or point out that they have eye schmutz and might want to do something about it) you get the dreaded, “No, Mom. Just, No.”

I was all set to be on my best behavior when I took my girls, who are 10, and my boyfriend’s 12-year-old daughter on a walking tour of great cupcakes around town. My kids are awkward around Ruby, who is beautiful and reserved and more teen than kid these days, which makes my mile-a-minute still-silly girls extra self-conscious.

So on the way to picking up Ruby, I proactively told Sasha and Viv that I was going to make an extra special effort not to be embarrassing, but that they needed to cut me some slack, since I need to be allowed to minimally converse in order to affect the day’s plans, which involved the basics of checking in at the tour, etc.

“Yeah, that would be good,” Sasha said. “Like, don’t go up strange women and say, “O.M.G. I LOVE YOUR HAT!”

I harrumphed. “Oh, come on, I have never in all my livelong days, said ‘O.M.G. I love your’ anything! That’s not fair.” (“Mom, no one says ‘livelong days.'”)

This was our tour guide, on the right. That is indeed a cupcake hat.


“O.M.G., I love your hat!” I whispered to her as we checked in. “Thanks!” She whispered back. She was a pro. Or a mom of tweens.

As we froze our fingers licking frosting off of them at 6 different cupcake venues, I mostly kept my mouth shut, speaking only to facilitate cupcake procurement and to suggest ways of staying warm. But the stress was getting to me.

“Mom, what’s wrong?” Viv asked, as I pursed my lips together.

“Nothing. I just want you to know how many potentially embarrassing things I could have said today that I didn’t say. I really deserve a lot of credit. Oh, wait, I’m not saying one right now. Oooh, it’s hard.”

Three girls looked at me, stony faced, though I thought I saw a hint of a smile in Ruby’s eyes. Probably my imagination.

Then Viv said, “No, Mom. Just, No.”