Hollywood, hard knocks and parents prepare most of us for what to expect when we grow up. If you are old, like me, TV shows like Adam-12, Mod Squad and the Brady Bunch showed you the ropes.
If we ever get busted, we will listen intently for Miranda warnings and if they are not forthcoming we will sue their sorry bad-as_!
Of course we don't get busted and live in the suburbs. We practice tough love, like Carol and Mike Brady, and take family trips in a station wagon. We rake leaves. Our kids play sports on teams.
Whether its marriage, parenting, coming out, dying, or just jogging in slowmo towards insanity, we usually have a movie trailer to set things up and get us ready. We have been preparing for the future since first grade. There aren't a whole lot of surprises as we march onward and upward through life. We go to college, get the job, buy the house and blow out our backs and knees, just like we planned.
There are, of course, exceptions. Nothing quite prepares you for giving birth to a child, or conscription in to your high school Booster Club.
These Booster Titans can and do command you and your child to mandatory two or three-hour meetings with less than 24 hours notice, and yes, you will bring a pot-luck offering for hoards of strangers and your check book. No subpoenas are necessary. You and your kid tremble as you read over and over again the 25 emails that outline what you are supposed to do and buy. There are posters to make, food to prepare, car washes and bottle sheds to man, dinners to attend, road races to run.
This powerful coven casts a spell, and whammo! You become a Stepford Booster.
"Buy a lot of stuff you don't need and can't afford!"
"Sell stuff to uncomfortable and guilt-ridden neighbors and relatives!"
Before you know it, you are dazed and numb, buying multiple plastic cards with discounts to stores you will never visit, tickets for raffles you have no chance winning, and clothes you don't need or want. You make casseroles of homemade macaroni and cheese and sheets of brownies around the clock. You wait nervously after the team dinner to see if your Caesar salad was the Chosen One.
Worse, you are depressed. No matter what you do, make or buy, you still don't quite fit in. Admit it. You are an unhappy Booster.
So, you ask, what to do when you get that 7:30 am email blast in all caps that says Chief Booster expects all parents to decorate their kid's locker and fill it with candy by 3 pm that day?
Take a deep breath. Put your hand on your kid's shoulder and say, "son, I love you, and I hope you win your game today, but I am not going to decorate your locker and fill it with candy, again."
Hug him, and then turn away. Fight back and resist the sobs of humiliation, angst and feelings of failure. Go to work. On the way to work stop and get a really big latte, read a newspaper, and eat a croissant. As an extra precaution, before you make that first call, watch a few You Tube videos of Jon Stewart.
And exhale. Everything is going to be all right.