Last week, Jude and I went to Art Night at his school. Not only were the primary students presenting their year’s worth of artwork, but they were also putting on a talent show. I’m not a fan of the talent show. This is the school event where kids who are perhaps not very socially aware, do strange things to win over their peers. Although the parents seem to love it (I mean, it’s super cute watching little Suzy doing cartwheels), the reality is the performers are committing social huri kuri.
At least, that’s how it was in my day.
One little act made me second guess my instinctual distaste for this kind of event. A couple of boys, perhaps ten or eleven-years-old, made their way on stage decked out in sweatpants, sunglasses and ball caps. The little friends were visually mismatched— one boy was short, chubby and very dark skinned. He also had the makings of a pretty significant afro. The other performer resembled an anaemic, Groot. So tall, so gangly, so white!
These two little munchkins did a dance. It was choreographed (which meant they had spent hours together practising), it used the entire stage (lots of big kicks and wild arm flailing), and it lasted and entire song. When it started, I thought, oh no, please God, let the music stop. But about a quarter of a way into the song, I caught a glimpse of their absolute joy. Firstly, these two were obviously the best of friends. They kept smiling at each other, encouraging each other with yeah nods. They were having so much fun!
Secondly, they felt absolutely cool! They for reals felt like Rockstars; it was plastered all over their faces. And their schoolmates? Were they snickering behind their hands? No way! These two weird kids were the new crew! They were the shiz!
I thought to myself when was the last time you felt that cool, Nats? Do you remember feeling so utterly awesome? When was the last time, you did your thang, and thought, hell yeah, I’m bringing it?
I honestly cannot remember the last time I felt like that. Perhaps, it has to do with not doing anything, or perhaps it has to do with self-awareness? I don’t know. I do know when I felt conspicuously uncool, though. It happened that same evening, about an hour later.
Jude and I made our way to his classroom where his classmates had agreed ‘to chill’ before they went home. When we got there, I waited outside for Jude to say his farewells, but after several minutes of overtime, I peaked my head in the door to hurry my ten-year-old along.
The other boys looked at me with surprise, and one asked, “Excuse me, are you Jude’s Mom?” Yes, I said, I am indeed Jude’s Mommy. The look on their faces was very uncomfortable for me. They all looked, well, very surprised, disappointed almost. I felt decidedly uncool.
I always thought I’d be one of the cool moms. I’m pretty funny, and I’m always ‘with the times’ (the fact that I just wrote with the times should be an indicator of how unreliable this narrator is). And I always assumed I’d look cool.
It’s a sad day when you realise you’ve lost the ‘it’ factor. No matter what I wear, how fashionable I am, I will always just be, Jude’s mom. Or Morgan’s mom (which is even less cool, because she tells everyone that I need to exercise more).
Once a young man in Morgan’s class, Emmanuel was his name and he happened to have Down Syndrome, called across the classroom and said, “Hey, Morgan’s Mom, you’ve got a cute face.” I was flattered. But then, on my next visit he said, “Hey, Morgan’s Mom, you mustn’t eat so much food.” Less flattering.
How have I responded to my loss of status? How does one proceed when being the cool mom is no longer an option? Should I become the Italian Mama, a mom who force-feeds every face she encounters and shouts loudly across the road for her kids,”DINNERRRRR!” I have the body type for this maternal identity, but that would mean I’d have to cook all the friggin time. So no. I’ll not identify with stereotypical Italian Mamas.
I could group with the Keeners. You know, the mothers who do everything? They bake for the bake sale; they’ve got their own multi-level marketing business — they sell Tupperware or expensive toys or some such commodity. They know everything about every kid in the class, and they’re very keen to give you the low-down on the dirty secrets. I’m just way to lazy to be this kind of Mommy. Too lazy.
Let’s see, who else? Oh, yeah, there are the Granola moms. They’re the moms who insist their kids drink green smoothies and eat homemade granola for breakfast. They’re violently against vaccination, they do yoga out on their front lawn, and they scoff at you for using store bought suncreen— you make your sunscreen, dammit! No, I mean, come off it, I’d end up mass murdering people if I had to be so intense about everyday shit, like breakfast or clothing (only organic cotton for their little cherubs).
The truth is, I feel like I take a little bit of something from each one of these groups: I shout at my children A LOT (Italian), I’m seriously considering a home business selling sex toys— big business, right? (Keener) And… I’m passionate about sunscreen— just don’t use it. My mother never put sunscreen on me and look how fabulous I turned out. Everyone’s gonna die some day (Super Granola).
I’ve realised I’ve become, that mom. The crazy one. I’ve dropped off my children at school in my pyjamas (not because I’ve let myself go, but because I’m just going back to bed anyway). I’ve lost my shit in the school office (like, I’m talking freaked out to epic proportions) because someone disrespected my child, and I’ve unconsciously sung out loud while waiting for my kid at the school gate (inside my head and outside my head can get confusing).
It’s not so bad being uncool. Gone are the dreams of being the local MILF. Now, I feel somewhat, realised. It turns out that being a little off-beat is the new cool. Just ask Chubs and Groot— Flying your freak flag is so 2017. I’m tots with the times.