The drive thru lines for our favorite shaped chicken are getting longer these days. The fruits of the year’s extracurricular endeavors are ripening. Sports are wrapping up, dances are being polished, votes are being tallied, stages are being set. It is that time of year where parents are rushing from practices to rehearsals, to competitions, all in preparation for the big events that will effect the very soul of our children for …about 27 seconds.

It is recital-banquet-awards season.

And like hunting season, you will need special clothes, gear, and patience.

If camo was made in shades of “auditorium” or “gymnasium,” dads might be less grumbly about entering into a crowd of nameless, yet familiar, faces with which they must make small talk until the lights dim.

So go ahead, gas-up the family stagecoach, DVR your evening favorites, dig out those pants with actual buttons, and maybe make notecards with the names of your kids’ coaches, instructors, and friends’ parents for your husband.

Bring tissues, hand sanitizer, and chapstick.

  • The tissues are to catch the happy tears you will cry because your kid is just awesome, and for that moment during the performance when you realize the season is over and you are about to get your Monday nights back. But keep that part to yourself.
  • The hand sanitizer is for all the hands you are going to be shaking. It is probably bad form to squirt it into the other person’s hand before you shake it. But when you feel you have been adequately palmed with God-knows-what, pretend to pick up something you dropped on the dirty ground as an excuse to then clean your hands before you get to the crying part of the evening I mentioned above. I mean, we are just breaking out of flu season.  And I’ll be damned if I am spending my upcoming free evenings nursing a fever and hacking cough.
  • Now the chapstick is a multipurpose item. It can be used for the lip you might chew half off while anxiously watching your child do there thing and hoping they do not screw up and storm off stage.  But if they do, the chapstick also doubles as a distraction. Just get it out along with a compact mirror and pretend “someone else’s child” is not your concern.

And when you have a second to sit on your own couch and rest your neglected toes on that pile of laundry you will fold in June, please do not feel bad about not making it to see my kid do his thing, at the place, for the deal that you or your kid have no involvement.

Really, I did not expect you to come when I posted the event on social media. Though it would have been totally awesome to have seen you there. And I might like you better than three quarters of my blood related family for it.

But seriously, no sweat.

Likewise, I hope you understand why I did not make it to your daughter’s dance recital, your son’s 1st night on the pitcher’s mound, or your youngest child’s induction into the pee wee National Honor’s Society.  It is seriously awesome that your kids are as amazing and accomplished as mine. (Okay, that might be stretching things just a bit. Haha!) But I was probably too busy that night. Or just too frazzled. Or it cost too much to attend. Or my couch won the battle against my good intentions.

Oh but I love seeing the pictures and videos later on Facebook or Instagram!  All 47 of them.  No sarcasm intended. I get to feel like I was there, no hand sanitizer necessary. Then I get to comment and compliment.

Think about it. When we were kids our parents did not make it to see other people’s kids in all their big events any more than we do now, but they did not even get to flip through the digital news and privately laugh at the mishaps or sneer jealously at the natural talent afterwards. Aren’t we lucky?

And cursed.

Because now, if we are on social media, we are bombarding each other with what our kids are doing. And if you have half a heart you may feel stricken with guilt for missing out on an exciting moment in a friend’s life, but you just really need your own down time.

So then we apologize profusely, feeling we need to have a believable excuse for missing that thing that clearly meant so much to a friend and their kids.

For instance, a friend of ours recently took the excuse thing to the extreme when they missed our boys’ big gig playing at the Texas State Fair.  The day before the event they let their kid cut his leg open on a bike pedal at Walmart and then took him to get like 42 stitches.  It was a well played move. They posted pictures and made their public apologies on Facebook, daring any and all others who dissed our concert to show their cards. What’s your excuse? Beat that!

And if y’all are reading this, I am totally joshing you guys. I totally understand crap happens.  I mean, the bleeding had stopped, and there were chairs at the fair, but ya, I get it.  And of course, I blasted several (hundred) videos and pictures for you to fawn over. You are welcome. No really, just kidding. But thanks for the shares.

Still there needs to be a set of rules, or etiquette established for us to follow in these situations of open invitations on social media. And maybe there already is an unspoken code of conduct.  But I am going to speak it here:

  1. If you really have no intentions of being there, do not comment about how you …cannot wait! …will be there with bells on!…wouldn’t miss it for the world! And also, do not then repeatedly ask to be reminded of the date and time. Inevitably parents will turn to their child and let them know that so-and-so is coming to see them do their thing! And they will be looking for you in the audience and be completely disappointed when you do not show up. Unless you are somewhere bleeding in an ER.
  2. If you are important to the child and they expected you to be there of your own admission, and something came up and you just couldn’t turn off Netflix, cool. But at least acknowledge the event happened and that you are sorry you missed it. No judgement. But a young heart may misinterpret your absence and silence as cold hearted. And we all know a protective parent can misinterpret it as down right nasty.
  3. If someone did not show up to see your kid, but never actually said they would be there, don’t pretend your kid was sad or hurt. You know you’re lying. My boys had no idea how many people were coming to see them play at the fair, how many said they would but didn’t show, or how many of their own friends and family never even acknowledged they were playing their biggest gig ever. That’s the perk of keeping them off of social media. Because, “FaceBook is the devil,” quoth my husband.
  4. Finally, if you attend the piano recital or track meet of your friend’s daughter, do not expect payback attendance at your child’s events. This is a hard one because I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine, right? We should try to reciprocate the love when we can. But treat the time and attendance as a gift, not to be repaid, but appreciated. And let each other off the hook. If I’m being honest, one spring I went to the first ballet recital of a friend’s daughter, not because I enjoyed watching a sequined pull-up version of the hokey pokey in ballet shoes, or because the 3 year old even cared if I was there, but because it was an excuse to get out without my own kids and sit quietly in a dark theatre watching an event I would probably never be a part of having three sons. I was being purely selfish. The squirming toddler’s mother owed me nothing.
  5. For heaven’s sake, say thank you when someone shows up expected or unexpected. Say it and mean it. And make sure your little star of the evening says thank you as well.  PR skills probably count for something on a high school transcript?

Look, we are all exhausted running around just keeping up with our own performance as mom! We cannot go around beating ourselves up for not doing the same for our friends’ kids.

And we certainly should not expect our friends to be able to jump and be in attendance at every event in our children’s lives. What is important to us, may be but a blip on another’s radar. Or they could loathe chess tournaments, or just be downright jealous of your child’s juggling abilities.

As for me and mine, no need to apologize for not being able to be there when I never expected it of you. And for those busy moms who suddenly went out of their way and showed up unexpectedly to see my boys do their thing, please know how much I appreciated the time sacrifice. Someday I hope to repay the gift, if I have never seen your baby be awesome. But don’t be creepy and keep a tally or anything. I do like Netflix.


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