Hunter-Gatherer-Warrior MotherAllana Harkin
A few months ago I found myself standing in line with dozens of other parents waiting to register my child for swimming class. The tension in the air was palpable. Mothers and fathers soothed their anxieties with hot coffee as they tightly grasped a number in their hands. #1 leaned smugly against the front door knowing full well her class selection was a home run. She was #1! Even those on-line risk takers didn’t stand a chance at getting her spots in the coveted Karate and jazz/tap classes. My own fate was not so clear. At #21, anything could happen. My stomach turned. What if my daughter didn’t get into any classes? I’d be left with no choice but to enroll her in senior water aerobics.
No one spoke a word until one brave soul broke the ice by asking for a pen. Sure he got his pen, but his request was greeted by looks of disgust, sneers and head shaking while surely everyone was thinking the same thing:
“Who comes to registration and hasn’t filled out their form? Who would take that risk? This is serious business, mister. If you’re not willing to play in the big leagues, then maybe you just need to let your kids ROAM FREE on the STREETS where they will never have the benefit of learning how to play the two-octave wood xylophone.”
The only forgiving individual was leaning on the railing, fast asleep. It was 5:45 in the morning, after all.
I couldn’t help thinking to myself: My mother would have NEVER done this. This is bordering on insanity. It’s so early I can’t even hear a bird. Under my coat I am still wearing a pajama top.
I burst into the air. Three minutes later my daughter is enrolled in swim, ballet and I think indoor soccer. I can’t be sure. I just started screaming out registration numbers. I also may have been crying. #22 eyes me up and down with a look of pity as I retreat from the registration office (seriously, I have never looked worse), but there is no doubt that she has fear in her eyes (did I take that one last spot in Ultra Swim?). Regardless, I wipe my brow and carry on.
My child will not be left behind. She WILL learn to float on her back (with a life jacket, but still).
She WILL jump around a room holding pom poms while wearing a tutu. (I have no idea why they call this ballet.)
And YES, she WILL score in the wrong teams net while still looking victorious! (Or she’ll be noodle dancing in the water with 80-year-old women, still unclear.)
I feel good. This is how my mother must have felt when she finished crocheting me a Christmas dress, or when she knit me a pair of wool gaucho pants.
And that’s when it dawned on me: Kids’ classes are the new handmade gaucho pants!
My mother may have never stood in line at the crack of dawn to register me for extra-curricular classes, but she could turn an old abandoned couch into a back-to-school outfit in under 10 minutes. It gave her a sense of accomplishment and me a really embarrassing pant suit for first grade. I sensed a similar feeling as I dragged myself back home from registration. Shielding myself from the bright sun rising in the east, exhaustion taking hold of my Hunter-Gatherer-Warrior Mother body, I crept into my daughter’s room to let her know the good news.
You will swim my dear. Oh yes. You will swim.
An for those of you who are interested in getting your children into the entertainment business, this great web series (The Casting Room) illustrates exactly what you should NOT do as a parent when your child is auditioning (p.s. I’m in it). Take note: