Maybe it’s the hopeful glimpse of summer on the distant horizon, or maybe it’s just educators exacting sweet revenge for all those leaden fruitcakes and tacky “#1 Teacher!” mugs we dumped on them over the holidays. But the announcements, permission slips and assorted fliers that are suddenly spilling out of kids’ backpacks cannot be ignored.
It’s the season to show up, sign up, and most of all, shut up.
The pleasure of our company is politely but firmly demanded at 4th-grade re-enactments of the Constitutional Convention and junior varsity cheerleader car washes, at this-sport-is-over-now awards assemblies and this-one-is-starting-now practices. Even if you’ve been patting yourself on the back all year for managing not to overschedule your kids’ after-school activities, the ones actually in school are starting to pile up like a Pop Warner scrimmage.
We need more electrolytes.
We also need, under the pitiful cloak of no-names-or-school-districts disclosed, to admit that we’ve been enthusiastically lying our butts off for years now about how GREAT! these events are and HOW MUCH WE’RE ENJOYING THIS!
To purge our collective conscience, we took a very unscientific little survey among mommy confidantes, and compiled the following Brief and Incomplete List of Things Parents Secretly Hate But Don’t Dare Ever Admit Out Loud:
- Family Fun Fair in the school cafeteria. Rarely fun, rarely fair, unless you’re one of the three rich pirate moms who conspire every year to pool their bids and take home all the best gift baskets. They created a Webkinz hedge-fund years ago, and you don’t stand a chance, so just sit there with your Bingo cards and rubbery slice of pizza until the sixth-grader who begged you to come returns from the arcade and deigns to publicly acknowledge you.
- Cake walks. We just can’t take the public shame of being the banana bread no one wants. That was our grandmother’s recipe! With the secret ingredient of dried apricots chopped fine so they shimmer like little orange jewels, or didn’t you notice? We demand an immediate halt to the thoughtless public humiliation of baked goods!!!
- Band concerts. A unique form of torture. Small children striving to live up to the impossible dreams of a teacher who’s seen The Music Man too many times and is still bitterly disappointed about not making drum major in high school. We can’t take another 22-snippet night of Turkey in the Straw and Three Blind Mice. Teach them Free Bird, instead. One song, 20 minutes, and dissonance only makes it better.
- Awards assemblies. We so feel the pain of the friend who recounted this enchanted evening: “Hours of sitting through a graduation awards ceremony until your kid finally gets honored with … Most Enthusiastic Participant in Gym Class. True story.”
- Soccer. Unless hot Italian men, a big-screen TV, a pitcher of sangria and a plate of nachos with guacamole are involved. Confides one reluctant soccer mom: “I just don’t get it. And what I really don’t get are the parents who watch soccer practice.”
It’s not that we’re unsportsmanlike, or sticks in the mud. We love spending time with our kids, and enjoying their enjoyment of something we may or may not personally enjoy. Sometimes we just need to vent. Which suddenly reminds us of that time another parent sweetly sat through the end-of-year banquet for a high school speech team, only to have her daughter singled out as Biggest Complainer.
Got any good ones to add to this list? Let loose!