Intersections – Time for Mayhem
By Nicki Salcedo
The entire month of May is a beatdown for parents, but I decided to take on the challenge cheerfully.
People mistakenly think I do everything. This isn’t true. I only ever do the things I want to do. I hang out with my kids. I write. I go to work. This list of everything is woefully short, but I refuse to make other people feel better about their lives by listing all the things lacking in mine.
I used to think the things missing from my life included a winning lottery ticket, a maid, and 51 weeks of summer vacation. I used to think that I needed more time. “Time is the new money,” they say.
Time? What the hell? If I had more time, I’d do more laundry. I don’t want more time.
The month of May taught me that there is enough time. We enjoyed field day and piano recitals and graduations. If you live in the City of Decatur, your child has the opportunity to graduate from Pre-K, third grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, and 12th grade.
Do the math. I have four kids. On any given year, for the next 13 years, I will be attending two graduations. I did it cheerfully this year. I can’t vouch for what I’ll do in the year 2028.
The month of May taught me that there is a time for anger. Sometimes you find out that you’re a terrible parent in May. My daughter’s ballet recital arrived, and I was ready. I have very few life skills, but I know how to turn 3 feet of hair into a perfect ballet bun. Hair oil, mousse, Aqua Net, 2 black hair ties, 1 hair net, 17 bobby pins.
Imagine my surprise when we get to the recital and the other four year olds are wearing tap shoes.
Who wears tap shoes to a ballet recital? In my defense, it is a dance class that occurs in the middle of the day at daycare. I never laid eyes on the teacher until the recital. In May. The month of despair.
I calmly asked the teacher, “Why are they wearing tap shoes?”
She responded in a voice like Snow White, “It’s a tap and ballet class.”
I’ve been at this daycare for 11 years. Eleven f-@%ing years. It has always been ballet. Only ballet. I take a breath. The young teacher looked like Cinderella. There were small birds flitting around her head, and two mice were peeking out of her pockets. I was about to attack her like NeNe attacked Kim on the Real Housewives of Atlanta tour bus.
But I take another breath.
“She’s been in class since September. Did you ever send a note to ask for tap shoes? What has she been doing all year?”
This is 20 minutes before show time.
“She’s been learning tap in her ballet shoes. I didn’t send a note.”
She did not send a note. I am thinking curse words in a Baptist church.
“If you had sent a note, in September, I would’ve sent shoes.” I say this calmly. In my mind, I shout this. I hate May. I really hate May. Fortunately, the fairy princess ballet (and tap) teacher had an extra pair of shoes.
I have unfriended May.
One of the teachers at the elementary school joked that May was mayhem. I didn’t laugh. Too true to be funny. May like mayday. Help me, I’m drowning. Then I remember on the other side of May is a month called June. June, like June Rose. June meaning youth. Like Juno, the protector.
I endured the third grade recorder concert. A recorder is the cross between a flute and a clarinet. It is a cheap wind instrument made by the hands of the devil and given freely to third and fourth grade children to hasten puberty.
We made a rule that playing the recorder in the car is not allowed. I try not to hate the recorder with the passion of a thousand suns. But I do. I have children who play the piano and electric guitar with amp inside my house, so I have no fear of upsetting noises. But the recorder tickles the crazy part of my brain. The recorder is May’s theme song.
Here is a little known fact: Large groups of third graders playing the recorder are the reason winter is coming to Westeros. Strangely enough White Walkers can only be defeated by dragonglass, Valyrian steel, and a third grader with a recorder.
It is with some sadness that my May played out like an episode of Game of Thrones. I needed to wash it down with a shot of bourbon and an episode of Barney.
Remember when the worst thing in life was Barney, the creepy dinosaur? Those were the glory years.
Today, I’m in June. I love June. Juno of youth. Juno, the protector. There’s a girl down the street named Juno. How lucky she is that her parents didn’t name her May.
I’m like Olaf the snowman. I love summer and sun and all things hot. It is May that comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.
May teaches you to despise the school year.
Bye, bye May.
Bye, bye recitals and class projects and graduations and school year. For seven weeks, we will miss school. On the eighth week, we will despise summer the way we now despise May. By the eighth week, we will want school back like a bad boyfriend. But for now goodbye, May. It’s summer!
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.