You know that feeling of anticipation, maybe coupled with anxiety, when you’re watching a movie and the suspense is building for the scene where the bomb is about to go off? You know it’s going to happen, but you’re just waiting? Bracing?
💣 💥 💥 💥
Well, tonight was a special night of remembering just how easy it is to bring a 2 and 3 year old to a work event honoring middle school students. Hint: not easy.
I knew it was going to be bad. I just didn’t know exactly how long I had before it got bad. Another hint: three hours less than what you think. Always!
Two days ago I found out my husband was traveling today through the weekend for a football conference (aka beer drinking weekend). Problem was, I was scheduled to attend a showcase for students at my school held at a local college.
What to do? It was too late to find a sitter. I can’t cancel- I already RSVP’d! Bring the kids??? Am I crazy?…. yes. The answer to that is yes.
I brought the kids.
I brought a two and three year old to a large banquet room with tables, chairs, and lots of people everywhere. No places to hide loud and semi-disobedient toddlers. Of course my boss was there too. Cool! 😒
I found a table in the back. By the door. Jackpot! We set up shop there by ourselves, but then were soon joined by my boss, one of my teachers, a parent and child, and an Executive Director of the event. This is going to go really well, I told myself as I braced for impact.
They started with dinner, thank God! So this was a time of conversation, laughter, movement through the room, enjoying the toddlers playing quietly with their toys I packed for them in the 40 gallon bag of crap I brought. I like to call it an insurance policy.
A bystander even commented on how well behaved my kids were playing independently with their toys. Wow. How cool!! You’re right. This isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
This was where I went wrong. I got cocky after that. The show begins…
It was a Young Inventors Showcase, which meant that the kids from local middle schools were competing with their new inventions that are Shark Tank worthy. The ppt slide on the projector said “I Should Be On Shark Tank”. So as they announce the emcee, they point to the back of the room,… right where we are. And the emcee has a shark costume on!!! A Shark 🦈 costume!! Immediately my kids dropped everything. It was as if they were put into a trance or joined the zombie apocalypse. They got up from their chairs and in unison started to cautiously chase him up to the podium. Thank god they got scared and came back before I died, but that was the beginning of the end.
The man took his costume off, which they didn’t see, and started his schpeal. It’s quiet now. Everyone is intently listening to him welcome us all. My daughter is confused at this moment. She begins to ask quite loudly, “where’d the shark go?” At first, cute. Second time, maybe she needed an answer. Third, fourth, eighty-ninth time, …. time to leave yet?
No. I love torture.
My son sees the chocolate cake. He asks me for a piece. Why not? I can see it from my chair. I’ll be right back. They can sit there together quietly while I fetch what they requested/demanded.
I told you my boss was at my table right? Okay. Just checking.
I come back and my daughter is gone. She’s gone. I quickly scan the room. I see her blonde hair with pink Minnie beanie hat bouncing , weaving, and bobbin through all of the tables. Walking directly to the podium. The podium!!! We are in the very back of this banquet hall and she’s almost to the front?! While he’s talking?! While everyone is silent and pretending they don’t see or hear my two year old daughter about to derail this entire thing?
I hang my head and give myself a pep talk at the same time. You can’t even pretend she’s not yours. They’ve seen you with her all evening! Damn! It’s time to just run and scoop her up. Which is what I did.
And that’s not embarrassing enough is it?
So I need to try again with talking to my kids and tell them to play quietly with their toys. Then my daughter suddenly remembers the shark. “Where’d the shark go?!” Starts that on repeat for five minutes. Omg I’m going to get kicked out of this place. I feel it. So I take her to the back lobby area to calm her down. I left my son in there at the table playing with his toys. He was fine.
Here I am. I’m trying to play goalie to my daughter who is trying everything she can to get back into the banquet hall when I hear my son screaming for me at the table. Dear God. What have I done to you? My son is yelling. He is yelling for his mommy to come back in while the students are presenting.
I run in there with my daughter scooped under my arm and tucked like a football- still crying. My table mates help me pack my bag, a little faster and with much more determination than they would’ve ever done with any other person, I’m sure. I scoop up both crying kids, take my (now) 50 gallon bag of crap and run out of there as fast as I can. Don’t look back.
In reflection, I could have not gone. I could have said to myself, “This is going to be too hard and they’ll never last in that setting.” I could have gone back on my RSVP and not attended at all. I could’ve easily done that. But I knew my students and their families were excited to show off their inventions, and I wanted to go. It was important that I went. Even though the easier decision would’ve been to stay home and go to bed early, I went. I think it’s important for my work community to see me as a mother that’s trying to provide a good life for her kids. A mom who works hard and works late and sacrifices a lot for students in her school. A mom who loves kids. All kids. Not just her own. They see a mom who seems to be on top of everything in her work life, but she’s really just a normal person struggling with balance and trying her best. A working mom doing the impossible.
I was able to show up. Not just literally. I showed up for my kids and my students tonight. I got to not have to sacrifice time with my own kids while also being a proud principal.
Even though I didn’t think this two hours ago, I killed it tonight.
It’s time to give us credit for the things we have done instead of focusing on what we haven’t.
We are all in this together.