I hate to say I told me so, but I did. I made a resolution a while ago that if I felt like the cards were stacked against us when we were about to leave the house, I would abandon the attempt and stay home. But every parent has a tiny grain of hope that relentlessly consistent outcomes will not occur just this once. You know, like maybe my baby won’t wake up ever 45 minutes tonight, or it’s probably ok that I didn’t wash my daughter’s favorite flower pants, or maybe giving her chocolate cake before bed won’t spell disaster. We went to my daughter’s “Holiday Program” the other day, and well, let’s just say I wish I had followed my instincts. The major tip-off should have been that she had no idea what this event was. “What is your Holiday program? Do you sing?” I asked. “Uh yeah,” she said, which is actually a code response that means: “I think you are asking me about a grown-up thing about which I know nothing about, but I still want to feel like a big girl so I will just wing it and lie obviously.”
No joke, I left the house at 20 to 6 feeling a little optimistic, dare I say cocky, that I might arrive early to the program. I was hoping, for once, I could act like one of the timely parents and share some disapproving looks with the others when the chronically late parents arrived. No. As a result of the accommodating parking lot, which had 20 spots for 75 people, and the parking garage that just happened to be packed to the top floor for another event, I arrived a spectacular forty-five minutes after I left the house, despite the fact that the drive only takes 10. It was ok though, because this was a kids program and they were only 25 minutes into arranging the students on the stairs in an organized fashion, so we were golden.
I hustled my daughter up there and was regretting not bringing a camera when I realized there were more parents filming the songs than there were children involved. As it turned out, it was good I didn’t record it because my daughter didn’t sing a single word of the three Christmas songs. Instead, she joined the other toddlers who would alternately watch the people behind them singing and leave the stage to go tell their parents they wanted a cookie. After the singing, I spent the rest of the time carrying my infant around in one arm and yelling my daughter’s name as she ran around maniacally laughing and teetering dangerously close to a very long flight of stairs. She threw a fit as we left, because acting crazy feels good, and my son cried so hard on the way home he was choking. It was awesome! Some good did come from this experience though. I’ve devised a handy reference quiz to assess whether the universe is against me so I know whether I can leave the house:
How many in your party has had their nap?
- I wish we were all getting in the car to go to a nap.
- At least one of us.
- We all just awoke and feel refreshed and positive.
Has anyone eaten in the last 4 hours?
- How many raisins count as a meal?
- I think someone ate some mac and cheese and the other had a distracted breastfeeding.
- We all had a balanced meal that included saying grace as well as polite conversation.
How many snacks have you packed?
- There is a bag of nuts in the side pocket of the diaper bag that tastes like baby wipes and makes me retch.
- One fruit leather. The worst flavor.
- 3 cold cheese sticks, raw trail mix blend, individually wrapped fourths of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, two apple sauces with clean spoons, still warm rib eye steak in bite-size pieces, my child’s favorite flavor of nutritious smoothie in a convenient, safe, no-spill to-go bottle.
What is actually in your diaper bag?
- Two dirty diapers in plastic bags. Wet pants. Open bag of wipes with one left.
- One diaper. One wipe. Dry cloth.
- If I took a picture of it right now I could post it on my blog to teach other parents how to organize effectively.
How ugly do you feel in your outfit?
- I look 20 lbs. heavier from every angle. This equals 80 lbs. heavier if you look at me 4 times.
- It is only the second worst wish-I-wasn’t-still-wearing-maternity-outfit that I own.
- I actually feel like a dad might hit on me.
Does your child know where you are going or what this event is?
- It doesn’t matter. I need to leave the house.
- Yes. And we practiced all of her songs.
Is anyone crying when you leave the house?
- Everyone is crying.
- The one that usually cries is crying.
How many times did you ask your child/children to put on their shoes and/or coat?
- I am one time away from no shoes, no coat, and no birthday.
- I said please twice and “For the love of God” once.
- I only had to ask once.
Did you volunteer to bring anything?
- A “main dish” that takes a long time to prepare with more than 10 ingredients.
- A cheese platter.
- Heck no! I am not that parent and I refuse to pretend.
Does the event have any of the following words: “family,” “friendly,” “holiday”, “fun”, “program”, or “kids” in the title?
- It includes all of the above words.
- It includes some of these words but I feel like they mean it this time.
- It includes none of these words.
Have you rehearsed the conversation you will have with your child’s teacher when they approach you about her “recent behavior”?
- What “recent behavior”?
- No, but I plan on using the word “challenging” in just the right way.
- Yes. And I am good with people.
If you scored mostly 1s:
You are totally screwed. Abort mission immediately. Your karma bank is completely empty. You should probably give the next person you see $50 cash to tip the scales back in your favor. There is no way you will enjoy this excursion. No amount of fun that will accidently happen against overwhelming odds is worth it.
If you scored mostly 2s:
You could risk it. How badly do you need to leave the house? If it is just a medium to low desire- stay home. If it has been long enough that you actually tried to have a conversation with a telemarketer, get out. It could go either way.
If you scored mostly 3s:
Green light! Get the heck out before your luck changes. As a matter of fact, ditch the kids and go to Vegas- you are on some crazy lucky streak. This special alignment of stars may never happen again. Seriously, if you stay home you will probably regret it the rest of your life.