A couple months ago Zylo’s school sent home a notice about a talk being given by a man named Barry MacDonald http://www.mentoringboys.com/. The talk, which happened this evening at Quamichan Middle School, was called “Boy Smarts”, and promised to be an informative talk on parenting boys. I thought this was going to be perfect for me to gain some insight into my often bewildering little rascals. Dan requested that I bring Joah with me, as he finds it challenging to put all three to bed by himself. Thinking that Joah would probably fall asleep in the car, and then sleep peacefully in the sling through the talk, I ventured out.
Well, of course Joah cried the whole way down- he does NOT like driving at night- but I thought he would sleep once he had a little nurse. He did not. Still optimistic, I went into the auditorium and sat near the door, with another woman who had brought her 14 month old daughter. The auditorium was mostly full- several hundred parents of mostly school-aged boys. Mr. MacDonald came up and began his micro-phoned-slide-showed talk. “How many of you have very young boys at home?” I raised my hand. “Good- this is going to be most beneficial to you.” Yay, I thought.
The two babies were awake but quiet, but pretty soon wanted to climb the stairs of the bleachers. We quietly allowed them to do this, and then I walked Joah around the back of the audience hoping to sooth him into sleep. A few squawks from him, and the other baby girl, and Barry interrupted his speech to ask if we could leave with the distracting babies. Embarrassed, I quickly exited out of an upstairs door and found my way back to the lobby.
I spent about 10 or 15 minutes walking Joah around outside and in, trying to nurse and sooth him to sleep but he was far too stimulated. I beginning to regret having brought him, but also feeling resentful- neither he nor the other baby had even cried.
Pretty soon the organizer beckoned me back in, and I saw that the other mom had not left- she had just gone to the side of the bleachers, mostly hidden from Barry’s view and was letting her little girl walk around back there. So I reentered cautiously and let Joah crawl around a bit more. It wasn’t long however before Barry came over and asked the organizer to ask us to leave.
Now I was fully mortified. Stung and angry, I calmly exited the auditorium with my quiet but awake baby. The poor organizer was also mortified and didn’t hesitate to give me my money back. I just couldn’t help but think of the irony of giving a parenting lecture and then kicking out the parents. No where on the ticket did it say that children were not allowed. On his website it states: “Barry is well known for his highly practical and positive approach to building capacity, co-creating community and inspiring ingenuity and integrity.” Really?? I have to wonder if he even has kids!
On the car ride home, trying not to speed, I let my anger give way to disappointment. After all the arrangements of trying to make the evening work I felt like all I got out of it was a slap in the face. And then I also wondered if it’s me… was I crazy for bringing my baby? Was everyone in the room as distracted by the babies as Barry himself? Do I just have an unnaturally high tolerance for chaos? (Well, yes, I can probably answer to that last one)…. but seriously. I never got the chance to confer with the other woman, who was feeding her sleepy toddler at the side of the auditorium when I left; all we did was exchange incredulous looks.
Joah, oblivious to all, fell instantly asleep in the car and now sleeps peacefully in bed. I wonder how much I lost by not being able to absorb Barry’s wisdom. But then I look at my sleeping boys and think, we’re doing alright.