Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Embracing Embarrassment

I've been thinking a lot about embarrassment lately. Lindsay tells me I've embarrassed her from time to time. Mostly after an academic exercise. When she figures something out quickly. I may simply smile. I may mention her success to Matt or my mother. "Mom," eyes rolling "you're embarrassing me." It's one of the few times she whispers.

Embarrassment. What is it? What is its utility?

I spent a little time online looking up the word, to be sure I was spelling it correctly. I found a blog about a spelling bee entitled "Spelling Bee Embarassment". Without a hint of irony. But I digress.

What is the value of embarrassment? And why is the pleasure someone takes in our accomplishment both rewarding and painful? Even at the age of five!

As a teenager, I remember repeatedly feeling that my father was trying to embarrass me. In retrospect, I don't think I was wrong. I also remember feeling embarrassed by my mother, though I don't believe that was her goal. At that time, I vowed to never attempt to embarrass my kids. But how can I help but smile when L succeeds at something? When she relishes a discovery? When she sings her heart out. And if I don't smile? If I don't enjoy her joy? Will that harm her more than the embarrassment of my pride?

I imagine she would just die of embarrassment if she knew how I go on and on in this blog!

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