There are so many things no one tells you about parenting. I’m talking real news you can use. For instance, not one book or person warns you about the almost impossible task of putting fitted sheets on bunk beds when one side is pushed against a wall. It’s the Rubik’s cube of housecleaning.
Once you get two corners done, you think you’re golden, but then to get the third and fourth corners wrapped around the mattress you have to become Elasti-girl doing the shimmy-shove with your hand to get the blasted thing on.
Then there’s something called a districtwide middle school combined band concert. Where was the parent alert about this dangerous situation? I was trapped in a gym with iffy air quality and perched and/or glued to a sticky bleacher for h-o-u-r-s! It was so horrific I experienced the five stages of grief.
At first I was in denial that a band concert featuring the musical stylings of four different middle schools would be anything but uplifting. You know, “Yay, arts in the schools!”
Then after the first hour, I got angry that the band teachers decided each school would play 12 songs. Did they not do the math? 12 X 4 = 48 songs! That’s not a band concert, it’s a musical triathlon.
Soon, after that I began bargaining with myself. Like, if the band played anymore more tunes from “The Little Mermaid” it was a sign that it would be OK to leave.
Next was an overwhelming depression that I would die in the gym. I was already feeling woozy and feared I would pass out, hit my head on a bleacher and have an obit that would read, “slain by a middle school band concert.”
Finally, I just accepted my fate and sucked it up. It was almost four hours of sucking it up, but by God I did it.
Another thing no one gives you a heads up about is how much of your precious, sweet time on earth you’ll be spending at your kid’s extracurricular activities and how some of those activities will come with the plumbing-optional plan.
Now, my daughter is a competitive dancer, so this means she partakes of her activity inside, on a stage with all the accoutrements being inside brings, like water, plumbing and heat. That is, until last week when she had a dance competition in a building that featured only a stage and indoor latrines.
There was no running water, no heat and the only way to heed nature’s call was to do the old squat and drop on a chemical toilet. Now, I know you outdoor sports parents are calling me a wuss right now and yes, you would be right. But in my defense, dance is an indoor sport and hefty entry fees are paid to cover the basic necessities like plumbing. Usually such events are held at lovely places like the Music Hall, so this explains why I was aghast at a facility that had all the charm of a zombie bunker.
It was so cold in the building, the judges were swathed in blankets like they were on the deck of the Titanic, but much worse than being chilled was the yuck factor of the Porta Potty.
The first day of the competition I managed to never venture into the makeshift commode, but then on the second day the toilets started leaking. Something had to be done and a couple of mothers told me I was just the person to do it. Really, I thought, am I the toilet whisperer?
Instead of reflecting on that, I decided that, yes, I would handle this situation. I marched over to the “in charge” person and sort of implied that I might be working for the health department and many, many codes were being broken. I even said, “I’m going to shut this bad boy down if you don’t get the problem fixed,” and then whipped out my cellphone, set my timer and told him he had 20 minutes to “make it right.”
Mr. In Charge, a man who looked liked he favors a Valencia orange spray tan, told me that it wasn’t his fault and attempted to do one of those roundabout apologies that are less about begging your forgiveness and more about insulting your intelligence. (I foresee a bright future for him in politics.) I replied succinctly, “tick tock” and then sauntered away with a swagger walk I save for special occasions.
Guess what? In 20 minutes we had fresh, non-leaky toilets with, wait for it, an upgrade to two-ply toilet paper.
Was I proud of myself? Heck yeah. Do I see a future for myself as a toilet whisperer? Lord, I hope not, but it just might trump a four-hour band concert.