Friday, 10 May 2019

RAT RACE by Naomi Elana Zener

"Where will you send your kid to school?" I'm asked at point blank range.
Confused silence the response, being pregnant this question was strange.
The man continued to press, advising I've disadvantaged my unborn child,
Educational choices must be made when eggs in ovaries are running wild.
"I'll take my chances," I replied suppressing the laughter of my fetus.
"Public school is free," I said,"it turns out doctors, even some named Cletus!"
Subliminal humour flew over the man's half-bald cuckoo’s nest,
In which his private school-educated brain was clearly at rest.
The parent, first of many, I've met who turn parenting into competitive sport,
Cross-examined me, scrutinized my choices as if I was a witness in court.
Leaving no stone unturned, each inquiry made in a judgmental fashion,
With each answer criticized, self-esteem like the DOW, diminished daily by a fraction.
Once baby arrived 'Gladiators: The Parenting Edition' throttled into full force,
Should baby and parent lag behind, then you've bet on the wrong horse.
Developmental milestones is where tiger parents would first pounce,
Heaven forbid your child is delayed, your faith in him you'd have to renounce.
Of course your paediatrician tells you each baby is different, don't worry, don't fret,
But, of your child only your doctor is genuinely accepting than the parents you've met.
And should your child not crawl, walk, talk and teethe preternaturally,
Then ensure clothes bought transform junior into one in vogue baby.
The park is not a playground, rather it is a fashion battle field.
Chances of success depend heavily on the brand of weapon you wield.
"Cute outfit," a mother remarked smugly looking at your kid up and down,
A no-name generic dress she is saddled in, your smile fades to a frown.
Reminding yourself baby's not on a red carpet or step and repeat,
Nonetheless, you hang your head in shame, returning home in defeat.
Compensating for another loss in the Darwinian competition,
You buy a second stroller, an overpriced celebrity-endorsed edition.
Customary greeting of neighbours replaced with an envy-laced question,
Instead of hello, "how many strollers do you have?" is the demanded confession.
No matter the number of music or sign language classes in which your baby is enrolled,
If not the most expensive or popular, your hand at this poker game you should fold.
Good luck if baby potty training has not commenced before turning one,
The embarrassment you'll face is worse than a red face from the sun.
"But you're forcing your child to sit in feces and urine!" the holier-than-thou exclaim,
A 'poo-pants pigpen' moniker will be your baby's newfound fame.
First birthday party, the parenting pageant's dreaded next round,
Each grander than the next, bar mitzvah scaled monstrosities abound.
Replete with live entertainment, french service, table centerpiece decor,
The days of cake, balloons, 'happy birthday' song are no more.
Upon safely reaching base camp, baby healthy and year one now behind you,
Mount Everest awaits, seventeen more years of this nonsense, you turn blue.
How to get through it all without tears, humiliation or falling to last place?
Finding a community of non-type A parents is now the chase.
Avoiding helicopters is easy, your kid is the trick,
Get out of plans easily, the card played is baby is sick.
Children are not accessories, for that we have BMW, Louis, Prada and Rochas,
Neither are they extensions of vanity or ego, to think otherwise lacks gravitas.
Raising kids does not have to be a sanctimonious rat race,
March to the beat of your own drummer, set a new pace.
But, if in the jet set urban developed jungle you wish to reside.
Find a good shrink and accept this reality, for from it you cannot hide.

(c) 2019. Naomi Elana Zener. All Rights Reserved.