I'm sorry, but where in the official parenting handbook does it state parents must relinquish their fun card when the kids hit puberty?

To the attractive mother with long wavy red hair in the minivan parked near me in the drop zone at middle school this morning: may I just say, "You rule the universe and you make this mom proud."

Was that the cabbage patch you rocked from the driver's seat? 'Cause your skills are fierce, Red. I am guessing "You Can't Touch This" was blaring from the stereo, but it could have been Beyonce.

All I know is I am certain the adolescent son with the tortured expression in your passenger seat earned this performance. Surely the other eight stunned schoolmates witnessing your funky freestyle had it coming too.

Bless you, Red. Thank God there are people like you out there-parents exercising their right to mortify. I was beginning to fear the rapture for renegade 'rents had come and left me behind. It is better with my soul now.

Here's the deal. I've grown tired of hearing parents protest, "Well I wouldn't want to embarrass Blake" or "Chelsea would NEVER let me do that" or even "I don't want to shame my kids." Just when did the Britneys and Jasons strip us of free will and fun?

Why are sixth graders policing us, and when was the last fatality from blushing? My mother grocery shopped with her hair set in awful black brush rollers and pink plastic clips. My father once uttered the words "make love" in a station wagon full of us adolescent girls on the way to a school dance. No fatalities.

If my Irish jig in Wal-Mart (triggered by the new low low price on Cottonelle) should scar my sons for life, I can live with that. But I cannot live without dancing. I cannot stifle randomness and frivolity just because my kids think it is lame.

A jig is mortifying? Please. Mortified is the day the defiant 3-year old refused to leave our community pool and could not be lured with a frozen Snickers to the exit. Mortified was patient good mommy promising, "We'll come back tomorrow, sweetie!" only to be further humiliated by a toddler. Mortified was the reaction of poolside parents when he yanked down his trunks, stepped over them, and ran streaking on deck raving, "I WON'T GO! I WON'T GO!"

Mortified is crawling into a hole after the other son callously insulted a neighbor as she placed her lethargic 8-month-old in a playground swing. The son's French was decent at age five, but his sensitivity was not. He was compelled to share that the new mom's precious bundle of joy "REALLY reminds me of a slug." We were never invited to a barbecue.

Is it necessary to walk on eggshells, self-edit, and unduly question my wardrobe for the same adolescents who tarnish my momhood daily? Yesterday I signed a detention slip for one son's "loud profanity" in P.E., while the other son wore leg warmers, costume jewelry, and a Jimmy Connors headband to make a statement on a non-spirit day at school. I'm sorry, but where in the official parenting handbook does it state parents must relinquish their fun card when the kids hit puberty?

I am hanging on to my fun card. Which is why the cross dressing son will not flinch when I approach his lifeguard tower this summer wearing my tie-dye cover-up, singing Colbie Caillat loudly. And if I happen to appear in the cafeteria wearing mismatched PJs to deliver his forgotten lunch, the potty-mouthed son will not avert his eyes.

Not even when I pull up to school tomorrow morning and bust a new move in honor of Red.

Michele Ranard is hanging on to her fun card. In addition to car dancing, she works as a professional counselor, academic tutor and freelancer.