My work cronies love to hear tales from the Hen Pen. They’re kind of like Tales from the Crypt, though significantly more freaky. All true, of course, since real life is better than anything I could ever make up. Proof that God has a sense of humor.
In order for you to adequately understand my perspective on the foundational dysfunction of the place, you’d have to best understand me.
I’m nearly agoraphobic, right? That means that social situations terrify me and cause me, a generally well-educated and articulate person, to become a kind of awkward that can’t be put into words.
And I’m a cynic. That means that, in general, people annoy me. Don’t judge. Some of us are task-oriented. If you had a task that needed to be done and done right, you’d call me.
I’m working on both of them. Sort of.
You with me?
Oh, and I have, like, a zillion things to do every day, which doesn’t allow me much time to worry about the little things. That little nugget is critical to a full range of understanding. You’ll see what I mean.
Now, back to the story.
Big Daddy and I require any children living in our house on a permanent or semi-permanent basis (it’s a revolving door in this house) to participate in two things: something athletic and something musical.
The Diva, at age 6, made her life choices in these areas. She announced to us one day that, no, she wouldn’t like to play soccer (like her Mammoo) or softball (like her Mommy). She really wasn’t interested in volleyball or basketball. You know, all the normal sports.
She wanted to be a cheerleader.
Oh, and in terms of music, no, she didn’t think she’d like to play the piano. She’d rather learn to be a drummer. That’s another post.
I love her. I said a, “You go, girl,” and I meant it, though inside I was cringing at the thought of being a Cheer Mom. Anyone who knows me laughs out loud at the thought of me and Cheer Mom in the same county, much less the same sentence.
But it’s not about me.
We found what we believed to be the cheer gym, at which the Baby Girl ended up taking cheer and tumbling for about 2 years.
Here’s the important part: while my Precious One is in the gym learning how to bend in ways that God never intended the human body to bend and generally developing muscles as hard as rocks (cheer is the real deal, y’all!), I’m sitting in what I affectionately refer to as the Hen Pen. It can only be called such because it’s chock full of mama hens, clucking over this and that. (My, mental responses beside each nugget below. I never verbally responded. It just wasn’t worth the energy.)
This coach isn’t doing her job. (How would you know? Are you a cheer expert? Did you grow up in Cheertopia?)
That girl’s getting too fat. (Seriously? They’re 6. Shut up. I’m sorry, but when people hack on kids like that I go to a level where “shut up” is the best I can do.)
Why can’t they put air conditioner/heat (depending on the season) in here? This is ridiculous…for all the money I pay… (Buck up. It’s an hour. You’ll live. Though your extensions are looking a little weepy. Reader: Don’t judge me. It was hot in there, and I was getting cranky.)
Gossip Girl was great last night. Did you see it? (Sorry. No time. I was busy raising my children and/or working on my dissertation, studying my Bible, etc. Isn’t that show for 15-year-olds? Idk. Never seen it.)
Does anybody have any 2-for-1 deodorant coupons for CVS Pharmacy? (Being a coupon monger, this one I might could have used. However, since I didn’t participate in their other, equally important discussions, I didn’t feel it fair to take their CVS coupons.)
Who got into the most recent fight with the man whose business is upstairs from the gym and who yells at whoever parks in “his” parking places in the lot? This one was one of their favorites. I could never figure out whether they liked the actual fight or yapping about it (Ladies, watch your language, please. Your toddlers are playing at your feet. Squinting here from the pain of it all.)
The list goes on and on, each item equally important to the continuation of a life of meaning and purpose as the next.
And we did this up to 4 days a week for up to 2 hours at a time.
Some days, I just couldn’t take it, and Big Daddy would bail me out. Thank God for Big Daddy. Kept me from hurting anyone. Mostly myself.
He’s funny about it though. He’s a people person, right, so he’d just jump in there with them. They looked at him like he was an alien (I think it was because he was from the Dark Side…you know, manhood…but he didn’t care. He just forged ahead.) Let’s just say, he’s not agoraphobic. He’s my example in that way.
After 2 years, we found the need to change gyms. Guess what? As it turns out, there’s a Hen Pen at that gym too! I guess each gym has one.
And talk about your power structure. Harvard’s psychology department could spend years examining the hierarchy there.
I, fortunately, have had years to do just that, so I’ll break it down for you.
There are between 10 and 20 hens on a given day. Only one window through which we can see our chicks. You see where I’m going, don’t you?
Whoever’s sitting closest to the window has the power.
The rest of us peasants have to stand on our tiptoes and watch our babies from time to time, while the noblewomen sit in cushy chairs, sipping Starbucks, clucking about which one of the girls in making progress and who’s not. I mentally dared them to talk about my baby. Mama Bear on the scene. I hated to tell them, but she was the most beautiful one out there, and certainly the sweetest (she taught the girls on her cheer team songs about Jesus; have I mentioned that I love her?).
When they have to go empty their bladders of the leftovers from a Mocha Latte, they announce loudly what they are doing and that they will be back for their seats. It’s like the high school cafeteria all over again. Only were 35.
Apparently, the power structure is universal. At the new cheer gym, the nobility sits in high-back, executive office chairs which, essentially, block us serfs from seeing anything. The thing that infuriates me though, is that the noblewomen don’t even bother to watch! They sit up there and KNIT, for goodness’ sake! Oy ve. Knit in your car.
Can’t you see this one on SNL? I’m thinking my part could be played by Tina Fey.
Gotta go. Practice in four hours, and I’ll need that time to meditate and mentally prepare myself for today’s episode of The Hen Pen: A True Santee Story.