On Friday I dragged my coughing, sneezing, gravelly-voiced self out of bed and went to the "beauty parlor"* where (in spite of the fact that I felt like an ageing horse, who, if she had a halfway merciful owner, would be on her way to the glue factory) I had my mane and hooves groomed so I could look halfway decent at this weekend's furious round of Christmas gaeity.
The first part of which was the opening night of the Joffrey Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. This was to be preceded by a benefit for the ballet company: a charming family party with dinner and jugglers and music and goody bags for the wee ones.
So. My hair and nails were done, and I was packing the car with all of our Nutcracker finery, when I suddenly realized that my children's dress shoes were too small. Bad mommy! Instead of lying around in bed, coughing and sneezing, I should have been taking my children to the shoe store to be fitted for new shoes.**
So after they got home from school, that's what we did.
I swear, ordering the fucking shoes over the internet would have been faster. Even if Zappos had delivered the wrong size, and I had had to exchange them, it still would have been faster than the salesperson at Ye Olde Children's Shoe Shoppe in downtown Newtopia.
It took forever.
It took so long that the first thing we did, after getting all dressed up in our Sugar Plum Fairy finery, was arrive at the dinner party too late to get dinner. So there we were, having paid huge sums for a lovely dinner we didn't get to eat, stuffing our faces with Chex Mix in the lobby of the Auditorium Theater. And calling it dinner.
Then we saw the ballet, and in spite of the fact that I spent the last week getting tense and anxiety-ridden over what my children's behavior would be like, they (of course) completely disarmed me by behaving beautifully. I mean, here I was, making sure that my husband had the coat check tickets so that when my daughter decided that it was TOO MUCH DANCING and started to have a meltdown, he and she could leave early, while I stayed on with my son.
But I didn't account for the perversion of childhood. My children--who have accrued 20 years of experience in second-guessing me--were undoubtedly thinking "Neener neener, Mother. We'll show you." Manifesting complete singlemindedness of purpose, coupled with grim determination--the kind you can only have if you're either a sociopath or nine years old--they enjoyed every minute of the ballet.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I drink.*** Because anticipating my children's bad behavior creates just as much wear and tear on the psyche--maybe more--than the behavior itself.
*Just one of the many ways, in addition to the gray hair, wrinkles, and flabby places where I'M SHOWING MY AGE, ok?
**Another way in which I show my age is my touching belief in the expertise of the salesmen who make sure my children's shoes fit. I blithely order shoes over the internet for myself, but I'm too chicken to do the same thing for my children. Because I am of the generation that believes that it is properly-fitting children's shoes--and not, as many people will tell you, cleanliness--that are next to godliness.
*** Another reason? On Friday in the mail, I got invited to join AARP.