One of the most frustrating parts of parenting is when you’re struggling to cope with brand new life equations as more veteran parents chuckle about how you don’t even know.
Like, you’ll be dealing with morning sickness and ill-timed incontinence while constantly hearing: Just WAIT until the baby is born…
Then you’re losing your mind from netting five unbroken hours of sleep last week be as people keep telling you: Psh… this is the EASY part.
Because parenting, much like a video game (or life itself), involves always developing more skills and better strategies. Once you’re past infant stage, you tackle the Potty-Training Challenge, the Cleaning Up Your Toys Challenge, and try to swing the Not Throwing Tantrums in Restaurants & Grocery Stores Achievement for bonus points.
And recently, I leveled up. Yay! My daughter Brontë just started Kindergarten.
She was pretty excited about it. She kept yelling, “WHO HAS TWO THUMBS AND IS GOING TO KINDERGARTEN? THIS GIRL!” on the ride over,
She was thrilled to put her unicorn backpack on the little hook and line up with the other kids to file into class. When I came to pick her up, she walked out of class to find me standing where I’d left her and, looking perplexed, asked me, “Have you been waiting for me this whole time?”
She was relieved to find out I hadn’t been stuck there all day, but her mood soured on the car ride home.
“I’m MAD at you,” she said.
“Because… Kindergarten wasn’t what I expected. I’m disappointed. And you just left me there. I think I want to stay home with you and Bridget instead.”
Hmm. Well, I suppose Kindergarten is a whole different animal than preschool, where the kids get to run around playing and doing whatever they want. Kindergarten involves RULES and sitting still and stuff like that.
“I’m sorry you were disappointed,” I told her. “But I’m sure you’ll get used to it and make lots of friends. You’ll learn about a lot of stuff. Like, how to read.”
“I already know everything.”
“No… you don’t.”
“I can pretend.”
This went on for a while until I finally reminded her that she wants to be an astronaut and that being an astronaut means having to go to school and she found herself without reasonable counterarguments.
Thankfully, after a week or so of this Kindergarten routine, Brontë actually started looking forward to it. She likes her teacher and gets to go to class with the neighbor’s kid, who is already her good friend.
But that’s not all. Brontë is also a Girl Scout now.
This all happened when my neighbor, a close friend, teamed up with some other neighborhood women to embark on their very own Girl Scout Troop and I was yanked into their orbit.
Being part of this pioneering group means I’m going to be one of the leaders, which is somewhat daunting because I don’t know anything about Girl Scouts since being kicked out of the Brownies, many years ago, for frustration-pinching the other kids after the indignities of being forced to pimp their cookies without getting to tie cool knots overwhelmed me.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Some boy in my class was showing off his merit badges for knowing how to tie seven different knots when it suddenly occurred to me: How come I don’t know how to tie any knots? How come I’ve never been camping? ALL WE DO IS SPRAY GOLD PAINT ON MACARONI BOXES AND SELL THEIR COOKIES AND I’M CLEARLY BEING USED…
Which all culminated in me running around pinching everyone at the Girl Scout meet-up, later that night, because kids don’t know how to properly express themselves.
I can still remember my mother driving me home, too confused to even be angry, repeatedly asking me why I wanted to run around pinching everyone as I sat there unable to explain. I think the fact that I was normally such a calm, obedient child made it all the more baffling.
And I have yet to share this information with the neighborhood moms.
(Not sure if I will.)
But that’s not all. Brontë is now also on a soccer team: The Dragonflies.
Which makes me now, officially, a Soccer Mom.
To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this because it’s such a cliche. I was really irritated that one time a taxation-is-theft guy on Facebook condescendingly called me a soccer mom as we were arguing about gun control because it seemed to imply I’d lived too sheltered and naive a plastic life to appreciate How The World Really Works. As though I’d spontaneously sprung into the role of mothering without any previous life experiences to inform my views…
But mostly, it means that the trendy midtown resident I used to be, who listened to all the weird bands and went dancing with her girlfriends at whatever new place may be gone forever. That the notion of parenthood never changing me was all a lie.
It echoed that fateful moment at the dinner table when my husband shouted, “I’ve got a POCKETFUL OF TIMEOUTS!” to our unruly kids and I realized we just weren’t cool anymore.
On the other hand, Brontë thinks soccer practice is super fantastic because she likes being part of a team, especially when it involves uniforms. She likes that “Everything is Awesome” song from the Lego movie, un-ironically.
Even though she doesn’t fully understand what soccer means. At the first meet up, after the coach gave the kids a long lecture about how to play, the meaning of sportsmanship, and asked if anyone had any questions, the girls sat silent for a few moments until Brontë slowly raised her hand.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I think that Sleeping Beauty is the very best princess,” she said, with extreme authority.
Another kid raised her hand.
“Ariel is my favorite princess.”
“That’s a good one too,” Brontë acknowledged.
And meanwhile, Bridget quietly grabbed a soccer ball and having never touched one before, started pulling these moves:
So… Bridget may end up appreciating soccer on an entirely different level than her sister, but she’s still too young to play. It’s been a rough month for Bridget, who has to watch her big sister go to Kindergarten, become a Girl Scout, and join a soccer team without being able to participate. Being a three-year-old with an older sibling is hard.
And as for me, well… my whole schedule has been having to adjust, which is why I haven’t been blogging as regularly. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what I’ll be up against once Brontë and Bridget are both doing lots of stuff.
Just wait until they’re teenagers…