she will rock you—if there’s time

My daughter is running for student council president. I’m torn. She’s a great kid who will do a great job. But when will she have the time?

I used to tsk at all those moms out there with multiple kids and a mini-van, moms who had a full-time job just in carting their kids around. My best friend has two children in two different schools many miles apart. The son plays a sport that practices an hour away, takes a weekly instrument lesson, has hockey games on the weekend; he’s also in a band with Serena. The daughter has high-school stuff. But their mom works more than thirty hours a week and has little help from her soon-to-be ex-husband, who lives an hour away. How she doesn’t melt down is beyond my comprehension. I melt down just making this list.

Yesterday was the first full band practice in weeks (the Oxi-morons have six members). Afterward, the parents sat down at the table to schedule rehearsals; they have a paying gig coming up. The nine-year-old drummer lives an hour north but goes to the same school as four of the kids; the ten-year-old bassist lives twenty minutes away but goes to a different school and has a math tutor, an instrument lesson, and Arena Rock rehearsal at School of Rock each week—as well as two working parents who can’t get him here. Two kids have music lessons and soccer, and one of them is on the Tom Petty show at SoR. Serena gave up her soccer, reluctantly, realizing that she couldn’t fit it in among the two weekly SoR (Tom Petty and Led Zeppelin) rehearsals; the once-weekly TWIGS saxophone clinic, guitar lessons, and bat mitzvah lessons; and the daily practice for each thing, in addition to weekday homework, band practice, and daily care for a bearded dragons. What do we do if she becomes president?

I’ve seen all those articles about over-achieving kids, parents who push their sons and daughters to be all they can be before their sixteenth birthday; I still tsk at them. But sometimes the parents are pushing the kids to drop something. Heaven knows we don’t want to be their chauffeurs. How do you choose a thing to take away? Sports are good for kids’ bodies, and music is good for their minds—and both teach teamwork, cooperation, good sportsmanship, and things I find so much more useful to them than homework.

Serena has been sick for three weeks; I’ve been down for two. We finally had a spare moment Sunday morning, and I took us to Patient First. We returned with two antibiotic prescriptions—hers for strep, mine for a sinus infection. After yesterday’s band practice, the girl sat at the kitchen table watching a rerun of a dumb sit-com on Disney—one of the shows about kids with no parents or magic parents or parents so rich they’re on a perpetual cruise. My husband hates that she watches it and gave her the usual raft of crap about it.

I had to remind him of all the things she does well, including the fact that she’s a straight-A student who can play Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” on saxophone—and that she did much of it for the first three weeks of school while having strep and a cold! So what if she wants to veg out in front of the TV or play a game on the computer? So what if there’s a witch riding a bicycle through the smelly-socks air in her room?

This morning, I fed her Throat Soother tea, oatmeal, and a banana. She didn’t have time to drink all the tea or eat any of the banana. And right now, she’s giving the speech she worked on until 9:00 p.m. yesterday, and then the kids will vote. My fingers are crossed. If she wins, she goes to meet the mayor. If she doesn’t, it’s one less thing to do. May she get the thing she needs.

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