Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
One of these years, I'll get to go to an event at my kids’ school and participate. I'm not saying I don't go. I'm not saying I don't want to be a part of things. I'm just explaining, it's an objective of mine, which will have to wait until the children mature enough to not have the internal nag worried.
In earlier times, I'd come to the book fair or the spring musical or the baseball game with a double stroller, diaper bag and a baby in a car seat, effectively touting three thousand pounds plus when you count the two older kids who opted to ride on the stroller and my purse wedged underneath it all containing enough snacks to outlast a nuclear winter. I'd make it through one song before someone would need to go to the bathroom. I'd lose my seat and spend the rest of the evening half-catching some parts of whatever was said. I learned to smile, nod and take photos and hope that one day, I learned what happened.
As they got older, I couldn't justify strapping them down, but that meant I spent the afternoon, morning or evening acting as a Border Collie. But my babes are not nearly so obedient. I'd gather half only to discover the youngest two, dressed in their red Christmas best found their way to the microphone and belted out Rock Band lyrics at Breakfast with Santa.
Qu'est-ce que c'est
Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, away oh oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah!
The principal laughed. However, I still bear the psychological scars.
These days, eight of the ten can do all things independently, and the youngest two don't think they're part of the remaining two. The border collie approach is getting old because the border collie is getting old.
I used to be able to bribe these human beings with the promise of food. It still works, but they're not synchronized. Even among the youngest two, one wants to try everything at once, while the other grazes in a hit-and-run fashion and thus I spend the evening drifting in and out of the snack area, getting to have conversations that run something like this:
Hey! How have you been? How's it going?
I'm doing great, it's good to see you too. I...just a minute. Where'd he go? That way? Listen, I'll be right back! (Ten... twenty... thirty minutes later) My food's been bused away and we begin again.
I suspect all my adult friendships suffer from children-induced ADD.
Now I'm not above using my older offspring to act as bodyguards and narcs about these two's whereabouts. In fact, I frequently rely on their intel. "I'll give a grape Fanta to the first kid to find Anna." It's an effective means of rounding up the usual suspects provided I recognize the carrying charges that come with the soda (like also a doughnut and/or chips). It works until I run out of Fanta or funds or both.
I thought, “There has to be a better way.”
Motherhood is the inspiration for inventions of necessity. Instead of going after them, I'll make them come to me. I've been practicing my Rock Band lyrics. A few bars of Talking Heads should get them to come a-running.
Maybe I should wear red velvet.