Our fleet of SUV's and minivans makes its way into the parking lot. We all use our turn signals. Our eyes dart left and right, prepared to break at the sight of a wayward toddler. We are careful people. Outside, children stand with their arms outstretched as they are doused with a fine mist of chemicals used to shield them from the sun. Waxy sticks get rubbed across freckled noses for the same purpose.
These children will be kept safe. We send our sons and daughters to these fields because there is little danger and even less pressure here. No child will shine, but no child will fail. It is a sport without great consequences.
Some children are being dropped off by working parents, a few by grandparents, but mostly we appear to be a mass of stay at home mothers, a fact made obvious by our ill-fitting clothing and fuss free hair. We are practical and styleless. We are indistinguishable. Faceless. Nameless. Defined only by our offspring.
I want to scream that I used to be someone. A person all my own. Interesting and excitable. Maybe a little wild, a little weird. I want to make it known that I am not one of them. I am altogether different. But the baby on my hip, the toddler on my hand, the eight year old with his ball clenched to his side, they tell a different story, a story we do not star in. We are just extras in a giant scene of sameness.
I look at the women who pass me. I wonder if they too want to be known. If they too want to be understood. If they want to be altogether different.
Among them I begin to cling to my flakiness as a prize, as if it proves that I must have other thoughts and desires that keep my mind from catering to my children's every want. I never remember to sign them up for teams in time, and I am happy to hold on to my Saturday mornings and weekday dinners. This week of camp becomes my oldest son's only foray into the world of organized sports. And I desperately want it to stay that way, but I can feel the pull, his desire to be a part of a team, one of a crowd, a desire I don't think I ever felt, but one which I certainly do not feel now as I dream of wildly fleeing from this parking lot, my children in tow, into the woods beyond the campus, away from these children with braces and mothers with sensible shoes. Away to a place where I am known and understood and yet, still, altogether different.