DEAR ABBY: I had to respond to "Blushing in San Francisco" (Nov. 21), the 11-year-old girl who's embarrassed because her mother sings and dances in the mall. I was that mother a few years ago.
My daughter and I shopped in trendy stores where the music was really loud, and when she saw me bob my head and move to the music, she would shake her head "no." I'd do it again -- just to torture her. As she tried on clothes, she would pop out and say, "Have you been dancing again? This is a no-dancing zone!" We laugh about it now.
When I teach, I tell my students what I did. They tell me unanimously that they would die if I were their mom -- to which I respond that it's my job to make them miserable.
As the Bee Gees sang, "You should be daaaancin', yeah!" -- STILL DANCING IN GRANITE CITY, ILL.
DEAR STILL DANCING: Your letter was among hundreds I received pointing out that "Blushing in San Francisco's" dilemma is universal. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My husband is a contractor, and his office is in our home. He enjoys playing music while he works, and we often hear him singing happily along.
One evening when my daughter was 11, she had some friends over and was trying her best to ignore the fact that her dad was singing while he worked, and hoping her friends wouldn't notice. All went well until Shania Twain came on and he started singing along to "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"
We all laughed hysterically, and it's still one of our favorite memories. My daughter saw that her dad could laugh at himself, and that her friends enjoyed the humor without losing respect for him.
Not to take oneself too seriously was the lesson learned. It's one we all need reminding about occasionally. -- STILL LAUGHING IN SAN JOSE
DEAR ABBY: When my daughter was about 8, I was walking her to the door of her school and thought I'd have some fun with her, so I started acting like a cross between the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula and the Mummy. When I asked if I was embarrassing her, she responded: "Why would I be embarrassed? You're the one acting silly!" I immediately stopped because she was right. What she understood at her tender age was that you can only be responsible for your own actions. -- MOM IN HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA
DEAR ABBY: My advice to "Blushing" is to enjoy her mother while she has her. When I was in my teens, my dad mortified me with his dancing whenever we went to the grocery store. While pushing his shopping cart, Dad would bebop up and down the aisles. As an adolescent, it embarrassed me to no end.
I look back now and regard my father's dancing fondly -- mainly because I have two delightful small children who inherited their grandfather's love of dancing. When I see them "perform," I know my dad is looking down from heaven and chuckling, too. -- PROUD MOM IN GEORGIA
DEAR ABBY: I was embarrassed every time I went to the mall with my mom because she'd usually burst into show tunes before we got out of the parking lot.
I am now 40, and I sing in parking lots, too. I finally understand that the most valuable lesson my mother ever taught me was to let that song in my heart out and not care what anybody else thinks. It's empowering, and "Blushing" should give it a try. -- SECOND-GENERATION SINGER
DEAR SINGER: One of these days, try it in a parking structure. The acoustics are as good as any you'll find in a recording studio. -- LA-LA IN L.A. aka DEAR ABBY