Monday, May 15, 2000

Moms March To A Different Drummer

Whatever you thought of the cause behind the Million Mom March -- and believe me, I love hearing Rosie O'Donnell's shrill shriek as much as the next guy -- you have to admit it was different from most other marches and rallies we’ve seen for a long time.

What made it different was that it was organized by, and attended by, all those Moms. Not only did that make it biologically different from, say, the Million Man March, but the planning aspect of the attendees was different, too.

This was probably the first mass protest in history at which the children who attended with their parent (or parents) actually had snacks prepared ahead of time. That’s the sort of thing a Mom thinks of, but a Dad never does.

When a Dad is taking a kid to any event, his entire pre-departure checklist consists of three items:
1) can we leave already?
2) is the kid wearing clothes (weather-appropriate is an optional point)?
3) can we leave already??

A Dad knows that wherever they’re going, they’ll be able to find a bathroom (or at an outdoor event, there are probably trees within walking distance in case of bladder emergencies). Dad is also confident that he’ll be able to find some sort of food-like substance to keep the kid’s energy up. So the kid’s balanced diet on event day consists of a combination of salt, sugar, and various carbohydrates -- a nice salty pretzel, some ice cream novelty, and if they’re lucky, a funnel cake -- all purchased from whatever vendor they can find at the event.

When Mom’s in charge, the on-the-go menu is a little different. For starters, there are always carrot sticks. It’s amazing that any kid in America ever develops eye problems, considering how many carrot pieces they have to consume in the average week. Then there are other ziplock bags filled with apple pieces, crunchy Cheetos, and those tiny raisin boxes. And here are a bunch of those wet-wipes to both clean your hands and keep you cool in the heat of the day.

Moms think of this stuff. Dads don’t. Let me give you some recent anecdotal evidence from my own life.

Last month, I took my daughter for a bike ride to her schoolyard. On the way, we bumped into the mother of one of her friends, who asked where we were going. We told her and invited her to bring her kids along. She said she had to do a couple of things, but might bring them over in a little while. So my daughter and I continued to the school, where we rode around and played on the playground for a half-hour or so before her friends showed up.

Now, I thought I had done a good job of planning ahead, because I had brought a bottle of water along for the ride. Hey, I could see it was a warm, sunny day, and we’d need to stay refreshed after the ride. Okay, it was my wife’s idea -- she had insisted before we left the house.

Still, I was put to shame when the friend’s Mom showed up carrying a plastic bag full of snack supplies. In the bag there were individual bottles of juicy juice, or some similar product, for each kid. She also had brought along several fruit roll-ups. What a perfect kid food! She even had a couple of giant cups of ice water for her and for me. Now that’s a parent who put some thought into it before leaving the house. Obviously a Mom.

The Moms at The March were no doubt similarly prepared. I’d also bet that they brought along plenty of sunscreen lotion, which was applied to their kids’ skin liberally (if you’ll pardon the pun).

There’s one thing we know for sure that was different about this maternal gathering. With all those Moms in attendance, if The March ever got off course, they’d simply stop and ask for directions. Not likely to have happened during the Million Man March.

Somewhere along the route, they probably ran into a Dad who was wandering aimlessly yet refused to admit that he was lost. And starving, too. Spare a carrot stick, lady?