Remember how, when you learned you’d get to be a parent, you imagined all of the sweet things you’d also get to do? Like swing on the swings (again), have a legitimate reason to sit in a kiddy pool and teach your child how to ride a bike?
But then stuff got real and you also agreed to adopt a couple of pet rats – because your kid’s science teacher said he’d “make a great caretaker” (I fell in love with Nora and Lucy, too, but geesh, what was in that Kool-Aid?); paddled a tippy canoe down a nearly dry river because your son was determined to make it to the finish line (OK, fine, that was me – he’d have bailed two miles earlier than we did, but I digress); and even helped to chaperone 29 wonderful teenagers for nine days away from home.
Yup, I’ll try anything once. But work a shift as a parking attendant, directing traffic? That’s a gig I never saw coming when the pregnancy test came back positive.
No matter, it seems I’ll get to do just that this weekend, at Noah’s soccer tournament. Either that or cough up another $250 in club fees to buy-out of the obligation. I’m a bargain hunter so, no sweat. I’ll do my time – and from 6 to 9 a.m., no less (and my husband will do his, at the registration table, the day before).
If you know me, you know that the early hour is hilarious, in and of itself. But it’s fine. It’ll be fine. I mean, really, what could go wrong? Well, what if I send someone the wrong way? What if I send little “Susie soccer star” and her eager parents to field one instead of field 11, because I’m too bleary-eyed to read the map correctly? Or, what if someone has a fender-bender on my watch, and it’s my fault? And, well, what if I run into the likes of me? That scares me a little. Really. I’m fairly rule-abiding, but if I’m trying to go “over here” and someone is waving me “way, way over there,” I might consider doing my own thing. But to really, actually do it?
It happened once, last spring. I looked right at the parking attendant, a young kid with the face of an angel who could have been my son, and smiled. I silently mouthed an apology and then, you know it, I just rolled right on past. My daughter was speechless. (What kind of parent sets an example like that? It’s not even funny. Really. Yes, I know – I’ll say it again – I’m gonna burn in soccer-mom purgatory.)
Serves me right, having to do this job, and at such a crazy-for-me hour. It’s karma. I thought karma and I were “good” though, you know?
See, I was so determined to park close to that darned soccer field (where Noah was scheduled to play), that, once I found a beautiful spot just 80 feet away, I accidentally locked my keys in the car. And then spent most of the game listening out for a call from the locksmith. (We played phone tag three times because the cheering was so loud I couldn’t hear the ring. Good times.)
But it seems that the universe has decided that an offense this egregious warrants a little more timeout. You know, to reflect upon my misdeed. What’s that I always preach to parents I counsel? Use natural and logical consequences?
Uh huh, I’m pretty sure I’ll bump into the likes of me during my shift in the parking lot. Great.
I wonder if the volunteer wranglers will give me one of those snazzy, reflective yellow vests to wear? You know, while I’m wagging my arms all about all official-like? While I’m at it maybe I’ll throw in a few jazz hands. You know, just for fun, to spice things up a bit.
Wish me luck.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.