There is nothing like a weekend spent out of town with my 10-year-old daughter at a synchronized swimming tournament to re-affirm my complete ineptitude as a mother.
Once again, I was faced with the fact that I am unable to do the following: brush my daughter’s hair, put it in a ponytail, make a bun, mix Knox gelatin with warm water to the right consistency, paint the Knox gelatin on my daughter’s hair without burning her scalp, attach a headpiece to the plasticized hair without skewering her with a bobby pin, apply garish eye makeup, make the judges give her first place in everything, be the cool mom that lets her stay up late with her friends the night before she has to be at the pool at 7 a.m., bring her parka to keep her warm despite the fact that she told me in no uncertain terms that she would not need it, take pictures that don’t look like I was having an epileptic seizure that lasted the entire 48 hours.
I am not Swim Mom. I am Teach Her How to Program a Robot Mom. I am Sure, I’ll Ice Skate with you Since Your Friends Won’t Leave the Wall Mom. I am Let’s Ride the Roller Coaster and Get Scared Out of Our Wits Again Mom. I am Thank God You’re Finally Old Enough to go Ziplining with Me Mom.
And I thought that was enough. But a weekend spent confronting my own shortcomings in the Swim Mom department was a bit defeating. Particularly as I listened to my daughter’s pained yelps every time I attempted to do anything that might involve her scalp.
By the time we returned to school on Monday, I was feeling like one of the most incompetent mothers in history, rivaled only by the leathery mom who gave her daughter a sunburn in the tanning bed.
I halfheartedly invited Dimples to assist me in a “practice eye dissection” after school, and she agreed, “because then I don’t have to go to after-school care.” She hates after-school care. Another failing on my part.
When I pulled the sheep eyeballs out of the jar, the other adult assisting me had to “take a moment” before we started cutting in. But Dimples surprisingly seemed untroubled by holding a detached organ in her gloved hands. She approached the task of slicing the eye with great gusto that, quite frankly, had me a bit concerned about her own detachment.
Her favorite part was the inside section called “the vitreous humor”, and she plopped it up and down zealously, fascinated with the consistency. I had a vague impression that I had seen this substance before, and finally realized where – it looked exactly like the unflavored, dissolved Knox gelatin that had been painted on her hair all weekend.
“Gross, Mom,” she groaned when I pointed this out. But she grinned.
And I thought, “How many other daughters get to hang out with their own mother dissecting a sheep eyeball?”
You may bond with your daughter by teaching her the art of the perfect ponytail, but my daughter and I will always have our successful hunt for the optic nerve that brought us closer together.