Recently I booked the boys into a session at the Planetarium, followed by a workshop making their own plant terrarium. The 12 year old was predictably incensed at my insistence on finding and scheduling “learning activities” during the holidays.
“Holidays are for relaxing, mum!”
“Yes, mate. Because it’s so relaxing hearing you and your brother argue over the Playstation controls and who landed in ‘Tilted Towers’ when they should have landed in ‘Snobby Shores’ or ‘Salted Springs’”. Makes me want to run screaming into ‘Wailing Woods’ or my personal favourite ‘Moisty Mire’……
So off we went. After the workshop on the planets and the stars which both boys begrudgingly agreed was pretty interesting (did you know Uranus is a gassy planet), we moved into the next room to create our own terrarium.
Our instructor – Rebecca – was passionate about plants. I loved her enthusiasm and the way she was trying to transfer her love of gardening to the kids. But poor Rebecca was really pushing shit uphill: as she was giving the instructions, the parents in the room were busily ignoring her while they helped their little darlings into their rubber gloves, were claiming their glass jars and encouraging their kids to choose the best plants from the end table.
I stood there scratching my head wondering if it is just a lack of manners or a very real case of FOMO, when Rebecca finished her instructions and told the kids to begin.
My boys went to pick up the glass jars on the table directly in front of them when one of the mums, like a stealth ninja from a Bruce Lee film, ran at the table and snatched both jars away. It is quite possible she followed it up with a commando roll as she gleefully presented the jars to her two kids.
Meanwhile, my boys looked at the empty table in front of them, and then back at me, their mouths hanging open in disbelief. I kid you not, if this were Ninja Warrior, that mum would have been over the bridge of blades and up the warped wall while we were still stuck at the quintuple steps, wondering what just happened.
Knowing I only had seconds to respond before the three most commonly spoken words out of my mouth came out of the mouths of my boys (hint: the letters spell WTF), I calmly moved them away from the table and we asked Rebecca if she had any more glass jars.
Of course she did! This was a workshop we booked and paid for. Nobody was ever going to miss out. I just don’t think Ninja Mum received that memo.
So the boys potted their plants, made their terrariums, and we all went on our way.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Ninja Mum.
Wondering why she was so desperate to ensure her children had the perfect experience? Ensuring they had all of the equipment they needed in order to make a perfect product. Why was she so consumed by making sure her children did not experience disappointment? So unwilling to make them wait an extra minute to acquire the materials they needed? I mean, we are talking about a glass jar, some pebbles, some dirt and a plant. We were not creating the Mona Lisa.
But Ninja Mum is not alone. Ninja Mum has her own posse. I have seen her everywhere. At any event involving children, Ninja Mum is always there.
Free school holiday event at the library? Ninja Mum is there, scooping up the most colourful pipe cleaners and ice cream containers so her child can make the best bird feeder ever.
Workshop at the art gallery? Ninja Mum is there, darting from table to table, ensuring her little darling has every colour in their paint palette because you can’t possibly paint a rainbow without the colour aubergine, or magenta, can you?
Christmas Pageant? Well, every mum becomes a ninja mum at the Pageant. This is actually completely understandable, it is Santa after all.
Which makes me wonder. Regardless of why usually sane, rational women transform into Ninja Mum (a fear of our kids failing? Guilt at a lack of quantity of time spent together so time must therefore be quality time? Wanting to give our kids absolutely everything?), what if we all just calmed the fuck down? What would happen if we backed off, loosened the reins a little and let our kids fly? Or fall? Or just be kids? Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a perfectly planted terrarium to make my life complete. I don’t even need a crappily planted terrarium, which is why both were lovingly gifted to grandma.
Perhaps then we wouldn’t be so exhausted, and we would have the energy to be ninja mums when our kids really need us: when they are hurt, or scared, or in danger.
Oh, and of course at the Christmas Pageant. Because, Santa.