I Went There


Last weekend my third daughter, the evil blond one, had her first gymnastics exhibition. She was very excited and ready to go, but also sad because her Dad is deployed and wouldn't be able to make this event (like many, many others in her life).

However, she perked right up when I promised to record it so that he could watch when he gets home. And so that was my plan.

Until I got to the gym.

We made an effort to get to the gym early so that I could find a space close enough to tape my daughter and have more show up than a few multicolored dots, however the amount of time I could be there early was tempered by my son who doesn't sit well. To say the least.

Many, many gymnastics routines on top of a 45 minute wait for the show to start wasn't in the cards for us, so we compromised at 30 minutes early.

The place was already packed. Entire families were lined up against the railings on two levels and packed two deep. And I mean ENTIRE families - parents, grandparents, and I think aunts and uncles. Either that or step-parents were four deep and a lot of mixed families were being represented. And who wants to go watch a gymnastics event and not be able to see? No one. So each family was taking up six or more spaces in the front.

And, unfortunately, my genetics didn't allow for height - I'm under the average height for women. So I wasn't going to be able to record over anyone's shoulder, either.

Let me give you some bullet points of what was going on in my brain at the moment, because it wasn't pretty:

  • Why do all these people need to line up against the railing so no one else can see?
  • Why are all these people careless of everyone else who might want to come? How many spaces does one family need? This is not fair!
  • My husband has never seen my daughter's gymnastics, never seen my son spar for boxing, and has only seen one swim meet in three years because of deployments and extended TDYs. This is not fair.
  • It's hot outside and I'm a hormonal basket case.
  • Everyone hates me.
  • No one cares about us, and this isn't fair!
  • Maybe if I start kicking people they'll move?
  • Did I mention this ISN'T FAIR?

So there I was, standing behind some people at the railing and unable to see anything and on the verge of tears because circumstances had conspired against me to keep me from recording my daughter's event like I had promised. Which meant my husband would miss even that method of watching her performance.

But the problem was that I had just given up without even trying to figure out a solution. I hadn't even asked someone if they would mind if we could squeeze into the railing area. And I KNEW this, but I didn't want to pull that card. You know, the "please help the poor deployment single parent" card.

I don't pull that card easily, because I figure I don't know other people's circumstances. How do I know if the person I'm asking for what I see as special treatment or consideration doesn't have something going on in their lives that trumps my situation? What if I'm asking someone to move when this is the last performance they'll see because they have terminal cancer? Or what if I'm asking someone to move when this is the last time they'll see a grandchild for years because of a move? And military families aren't unknown in my area - I could be asking for special treatment from a family that has a parent deployed or just returned. Maybe this is the first event that family's father or mother is getting to see.

See what I mean? I don't like to pull that card.

But after twenty minutes waiting for the show to start, I had enough. I very carefully picked my way to a family that had three under-12 kids lined up against the railing and asked if they would mind if I "borrowed" their spot for a few minutes when my daughter's routine was up so I could tape it for her deployed father. I made sure to let them know I wouldn't be hogging the space they had staked out any longer than my daughter was performing and they were very nice and immediately agreed. Later, they decided to leave early when their child was done (and mine hadn't performed yet) and they waved me over to take their place.

So I got the recording for my husband. And I thanked some very nice people who were only too happy to help out when asked.

But I do still feel very guilty for going there and pulling that card.

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