I was hit with a memory bomb the other day – randomly I recalled that, when they were available, the cheerleaders at my high school would go cheer the chess team, unironically and with passion (at least that’s how I recall it). I wish things were that lovely all the time for everyone.
I also wish I’d witnessed it in person. I would assume the cheers were pretty witty and the pyramid building mathematically precise.
Apropos of nothing, childhood friendships have changed since I was toodling around in primary colors doing spin outs on my Big Wheel (which should always be ridden with this song in the background). The change is not news. We are wary and worried. We either fear the unknown bad guys lurking about the neighborhood and therefore we keep a close watch on our young ones, or we fear the somewhat-known neighbor who will call the police/child services on us if our child independently goes about the neighborhood.
Enter the playdate: highly scheduled, ritualized, and Instagrammed events wherein children gather and play/craft/go crazy in a rented bouncy house while parents are usually also gathering. “You’re welcome to stay! I bought good coffee.”
I suspect that the playdate is a way for modern parents to combat the difficulties of making friends once we’re out of college. I get that. I really do.
But they are fraught and they can get complicated and carry other social implications for kids and parents. I feel bad about it, and I’m vaguely uncomfortable with the whole concept for reasons I can’t put my finger on…probably that I worry that the child friendship hinges on the parent relationship and vice versa. It seems if Johnny and my kid don’t get along, it’s still ok for me to hang with the parent, but the inverse is not necessarily true.
This is all complicated and new. I never saw this on MadMen, but to be fair, I always felt like someone hacked each episode and I was missing about 15 minutes of material from week to week.
I digress. As usual.
Hubs and I are encouraging the children to stretch the friendship-building muscles, so we try to say yes to as many buddy-related requests as we can.
The boys asked on Monday if they could bring donuts to chess club, which is their Thursday morning activity. I’m not sure why chess clubs and the like tend to be held in the ungodly morning hours before school. But donuts seemed a better call than blood sausage (because cured meats). The boys were stoked because bringing treats makes you king of the hill or whatever the current expression is.
Have I mentioned I’m 97 years old?
I remember the joy of sharing treats at school – usually though it centered around field trips. My friends Stacey and Anne would produce bags of Jolly Ranchers and passed them around the back of our school bus on the way to see Big River on Broadway (an experience we shared with a gazillion other students from the tristate area.) We (ok, just me) would get more excited about the Jolly Ranchers than the show, but to be fair, Big River didn’t have a ton of toe-tappers.
Point being: school event food? The best.
I’m not sure if chess club counts as a school event, mostly because of the aforementioned early hours. However, I like that my kids are in a club and I like chess and the boys don’t ask for too much other than to stay up way past their bedtimes and take what’s left of my sanity, so a box of donut holes seemed reasonable.
On chess days, they have to be at school by 7:30 am. We need to leave here by 7:20 or so to give them time to drag their 8000-pound backpacks out of the car and into school. This means I start getting them ready to go out the door at 7:15, because they are legally obligated to ignore my requests, or “remember” that they forgot to get dressed, or we need to send them back to brush their teeth. (If we’re feeling generous, we say “again” or “better” because they insist they DID brush despite the green stink lines coming out of their mouths.) Add the dramatic trudge from the bedroom, breakfast, chores and complaining about doing the chores and now donut procurement, I had to wake them at 6:00. Considering they were discussing donut options for an hour after their bedtime the night before, they were pretty tired.
I’m not even sure how you can wring an hour’s discussion out of an impending donut run, but there you go.
Their tired state did not thwart the usual AM barrage of questions.
“How many donuts are we getting?” one of them asked.
“I think we should get two donuts per person,” said the other.
“Nope,” said I, Killer of Fun.
“Because it’s a treat, not a meal. We’ll get some Munchkins. I’m sure everyone is having breakfast anyway so they won’t be hungry enough for two donuts.”
“But we told them we’re bringing donuts and not to eat breakfast.”
Oof. Ok…but like…why would they say that? I hoped the parents weren’t banking on that and saving the Boo Berries for another morning because of some random promise my boys made.
I told them to call me if any kid remembers that (I think mine are the only ones who would because they are donut-obsessed) and I will bring that kid a protein bar.
The boys then began doing random calculations of how many Munchkins equals one donut and asked us to get, like, 3000 of them.
“Nope. We’ll get enough for each kid to have 2 or 3,” said my husband, who actually had to go on the donut run, so his vote counted more than the rest of us.
The boys pivoted to worrying about what would happen if someone took more than three.
“Don’t do that. Don’t be that guy. Don’t monitor. Don’t plan. Just bring the treats and go about your day.”
It’s hard for them to handle sometimes that we cannot grip the world and squeeze it to our needs. And I get that it’s especially hard for them because they feel gripped and squeezed. Because they’re kids.
They left at 7:00 and I didn’t give it another thought (mostly because there were no calls for emergency protein bar deliveries) until they came home, threw down their backpacks and said, “Some people took FOUR donut holes.”
“That’s ok,” I said. “Not a big deal.” Ugh. I hoped they hadn’t been Donut Hole Distribution Micromanagers (which is totally the name of my new band, guys.)
“It’s a big deal. We wanted to give the last ones to our teacher.”
And I realized that maybe they’re doing something right. They were focused on the right thing, just, you know, a little sideways.
That night, during a round of HQ trivia, which is something we like to all do because it gives us a reason to shout at each other in a positive way, there was a question about cronuts. Which I, and I alone, knew the answer to.
And I realized that maybe I’m doing something right, too.
Someone bring in the cheerleaders.