I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
January 3, 2013
When my daughter was in kindergarten, I helped her teacher in the classroom two days a week. As a result, I learned a lot about her classmates– but I probably learned even more about some of their parents. Take, for instance, the time one of the boys stood before the class and described the photos on his “About Me” poster.
“Did your dad help you print this out?” the teacher asked, pointing at the boy’s neatly labeled name at the top of his poster board.
“No, those are just stickers,” the boy said. “My dad doesn’t really help me with anything. He just comes home from work and gets on the computer until he goes to bed.”
And just like that, the kid innocently managed to deliver a stinging public indictment against his dad. I never looked at that man the same way again.
But hearing those kinds of telling details from my children’s friends and classmates is commonplace. Far more epic was the time, years ago, when one of my stepdaughters attended a fifth grade sleepover. When the parents stepped out the next morning for breakfast donuts, the daughter led all the girls to her parents’ bedroom. She dared one of her friends to open the drawer of her mother’s nightstand and take out what was later described to me as “a long, pink rubber thing with a switch on it.” Giggling, the girls passed it around and discussed what they thought it could be. I heard about it afterward because they had no idea.
But I did.
And I never forgot about it, either, in part because that particular mom was one of the most enthusiastic members of my neighborhood’s unofficial We Hate Second Wives Club. Every time she graced me with her patented frosty glare after that, I would give her my most angelic grin in return, thinking of all the things I could say, if I were that kind of person, about that not-so-secret item in her nightstand.
Once you’re a parent, forget about keeping secrets. Whether you drink a little too much Chardonnay at night or regularly spar with your spouse, chances are your children’s friends, their teacher, and perhaps worst of all, their friends’ parents know all about it.
I’ve known this for a long time, and have grown fairly comfortable with it. I don’t like having secrets, anyway, to be honest, and I’ve always hated the unspoken rules in suburbia about presenting a perfect facade, even as everything’s falling apart behind the scenes.
But now that our second set of children is getting older, there’s a new rub– one I had never anticipated.
It became apparent that we had a problem a few weeks ago, when we were shopping for our Christmas tree at the neighborhood tree lot. There, we ran into the father of a girl that my husband had coached in soccer for several years, back when my stepdaughters were teenagers.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably remember those heady days. Both my stepdaughters loved playing soccer, and while they were growing up, my husband coached their rec soccer teams, their indoor soccer teams, their 3 v. 3 soccer teams, and even, for a while, their high school soccer team. I spent a LOT of time traveling to and from various match-ups and practices when my children were very small, and many of my early blog posts and newspaper columns were inspired by what happened on and off the field.
When my youngest stepdaughter graduated, my husband retired as a coach. But when my daughter turned three, we couldn’t resist finding out if we had another future soccer star on our hands. Dennis pulled together a team of three-year-old girls and we were back on the field once again.
It quickly became obvious that soccer was not going to be Punky’s “thing.” She loved socializing with the other girls– but she was far more interested in collecting the bright fall leaves that littered the field and giggling with her teammates than she was in actually kicking the ball. During one memorable game, she even managed to convince a few girls from the other team to join her and her friends in the center of the field for a few rounds of Ring Around the Rosy. I still remember the thunderstruck look on my husband’s face when he stood up from herding a few girls from our team toward the goal and realized that more than half of the players on the field were busy dancing in a circle that was led by HIS OWN DAUGHTER.
At three, this kind of thing was adorable. At five, not so much. By the third season, the other girls on the team were starting to get a little more serious about the game– and so we made the decision to abandon soccer in favor of… something else. Punky was a little down about losing what she had always regarded as a playdate with uniforms, but I gently explained that since she didn’t enjoy the part that involved running on the field or kicking the ball (otherwise known as SOCCER), it really wasn’t fair to the other girls to remain on the team.
And that was that.
Until last month, at the tree lot.
“Are your little ones playing soccer now?” the father asked, after reminiscing for a few minutes about his own daughter’s high school team.
“No, not anymore,” my husband said.
“They both tried it,” I added, “but it really wasn’t their thing.”
“Yes it was,” my daughter piped up. I looked down at her in surprise.
“I liked soccer,” she continued. “But you said I had to quit because I was too slow.”
“I didn’t–” I began.
“Yes you did,” she said vehemently. “I wanted to keep playing, but you said I didn’t run fast enough. You made me quit. You said I was just too slow.”
“I never said that!” I said.
The father chuckled uncomfortably. “Kids,” he said. “They always tell the truth.”
Except when they don’t.
“I can’t believe she said that!” I whispered to my husband after I stuttered out a red-faced goodbye to the dad and we went on our way. “I can only guess what Steve thinks of me now. And it’s totally inaccurate!”
“That was awkward,” Dennis agreed.
“Punky, you know I never, ever cared how fast you ran,” I said, turning to her. “The problem was that you didn’t want to run at all. You didn’t want to play the game. And that wasn’t fair to the other girls.”
“I know what I heard,” she retorted, in her impossibly high-pitched voice. “I heard ‘You’re too slow.'”
I sighed loudly and sat back in my seat, arms crossed. What other deeply suspect “memories,” I wondered, were lurking among the My Little Ponies and rescue puppies currently jockeying for position in my daughter’s brain? With whom would she choose to share them?
And why am I suddenly picturing a future bestseller, cleverly titled Mommieblogger Dearest?