It's sort of like claustrophobia - which I also have a little. It's the feeling of being trapped, of not knowing how to get out of the crowd; of feeling herded that is truly horrific to me.
The simplest solution in my everyday life is to avoid crowds. With the exception of special occasions, I am getting pretty good at this. For instance, I go Black Friday shopping. And I am fine. Because I don't go stand in the crazy throng of people waiting for the door to open and I avoid the electronics. As long as I can move freely, I'm cool and usually this is easy, just slowed down.
Unfortunately, kids are putting a hamper on my crowd avoidance. Kids tend to want to do things that are sort of crowd-imperative. Things like baseball games and amusement parks. Or, you know, Muffins with Mom.
Muffins with Mom is new at my daughter's school this year. Although it's apparently been going on at other area schools for a while. The idea is to offer free muffins and juice (along with the experience of eating breakfast with your very own kid) for free and then lure parents into the book fair.
Let me count the ways in which this is a truly evil empire:
- I can, on a non-school day, eat a really enjoyable healthy breakfast with my kid in my spacious airy kitchen with like chairs and stuff. Or on my couch with the TV on, because neither of us is at our best early in the morning. Instead I am being led to believe that eating a mostly stale muffin on the floor of a school where germy children spend their days is a great treat. Because we're together.
- I am already expected to attend Family Night at the book fair with my kid (which I do super-early to avoid the crowd) and my parents are schlepped to Grandparent's Day, at the accursed fair. I mean seriously, how many trips to this thing do I have to make? Do you really think I'm going to buy more, rather than divide my money up into smaller budgets for each visit?
- Unlike Grandparent's Day and other school events which are done by grade, Muffins with Mom is for everyone at once. So, let's assume that the school is at 80% capacity - a more than generous assumption for the area. Now, let's assume that 75% of students have a mom or mom-substitute. That puts the school at 40%* over capacity. Now, instead of spreading that 40% out over the entire building, let's pack them all into a hallway to eat then send them into a library where the already full of books room has some added tables and shelves for the book fair books. Yeah. Great plan.
I managed to make it through the whole experience without hyperventilating. But I did do some deep breathing exercises in the parking lot after leaving.
The only good news is that my precious sweet daughter is apparently harboring the same issue as she led us to the only empty spot in the whole hallway.
All in all, it was a horrific experience. That I will repeat for the next eight years (because I'm so smart with my age-gapping ability, yo). Why, you ask? Because unfortunately, I love my kids more than my breathing. Or my sanity. And it's just one of those things. I hope they appreciate this some day.
By the way: Mom, thank you ever-so-much for braving whatever it was that was equally horrible to you in the name of being a great mom. I'm guessing that Girl Scouts and Ice Capades were particularly awful and you should know that I appreciate it.
*Don't ask me to explain my math. It involves substitute numbers and other unscientific oh-crap-I-can't-remember-mathness.