Signing up for Parks and Rec programs without wanting to die

Signing up for Parks and Rec programs without wanting to die

Parents, this is war.

Originally published March 2016 on

It’s D-day, people. If you live in the City of Toronto, tomorrow morning at precisely 7am is when your child’s future happiness is determined forever (other regions sign up on other days, so if you saw a bunch of hollow-eyed 34-year-olds wandering Etobicoke or North York recently muttering “F*cking piano lessons. F*cking piano lessons,” don’t be alarmed, they’re (mostly) harmless.) Forget a balanced diet fortified with D-drops, forget charming wooden developmental toys, forget Rainbow goddamn Songs. Tomorrow is when all the unwashed masses who can’t afford private lessons or camps—ie most people paying a Toronto-sized mortgage or rent—enter into a blood feud for spots in city-run classes and summer camps. It can be a grisly business, friends, but if you follow this fail-proof plan, you just might come out alive.

The week before…
In the weeks leading up to D-day, casually solicit your neighbourhood friends for suggestions on what courses they’re enrolling their children in while strategically forgetting to mention the free camp you found at the nearby community centre because, sorry, those bitches are the competition. They can have t-ball.

Two nights before…
Take a Gravol, then set aside three hours to nauseously and repeatedly scroll up and down the “Fun Guide” pdf desperately looking for things your kid would like to do that fall conveniently before or after his nap (Little Ballet at noon? Seriously people?) and don’t involve feeding goats or the words “with caregiver.” Write down all the course’s little numerical codes. Don’t get any numbers wrong, or you will end up signing your 3-year-old up for seniors aquafit. Don’t plan on getting into your first choice camps or classes. Have a list of backups ready. Have backups for your backups. Have backity backups. Write all these codes down on a piece of paper that you won’t lose (because you can’t trust any electronics in a crisis! What if North Korea hacks Canada by tomorrow a.m?!). If you don’t look like a cyber terrorist plotting the end of the world through binary code by the end of this process, you’re not doing it right.

One day before…
Realize you don’t have a “client number” or a “family number,” without which you basically don’t exist. Call the helpline and while you’re on hold for 82 minutes start sobbing into the phone: “I’m a person, not a number. I’m a person, not a number. I have DREAMS.” Don’t bother. No one can hear you.

The night before…
Make sure every phone, computer and small, helpful animal in your home is fully charged and ready for battle. Carefully lay out your pages of despotic binary code (NOT NEAR WATER YOU IDIOT!). Wake up every two hours in a clammy sweat asking: ” Is it time yet? Is it time yet?”  Set two alarm clocks. No, set four.

The morning of…
If you’re going to wait in line to do the registering with your actual face, leave the house at 4am. If you’re a two-parent household and you’re planning to double team the registration system by simultaneously blasting it with phone calls and browser refreshes from both of your phones and computers, set up your control stations. Make sure you pee first (this is key). Turn on CBC World Report. When the chimes go off, that means it’s exactly 7am. YOU MAY PROCEED.


Refresh. Dial. Refresh. Dial. Refresh. Dial. God, this is worse than trying to get tickets to Glass Tiger.


Hear your husband taking a bathroom break. Scream: “I WILL divorce you!”


Your child is tugging on your sleeve. “Mommy,” he says sadly. “I’m hungry.” Throw a box of Cheerios at his head. Refresh. Dial. Refresh. Dial.


You have dialled the registration number 81 times. You know this, because your phone tells you. Yes, your phone is laughing at you.


Success!!!! You have gotten into the registration page on the computer machine! You feel like Napoleon at The Battle of Austerlitz. But first, Crafy Creations, you are mine.


Goddammit, Crafty Creations is full.


So is Fluffy Flowers You Can Make Yourself While Swimming.


And skateboarding camp.


Maybe you should try seniors aquafit?


You get into Little Farmers.


Close your computer and put your unwashed head in your hands. Delete all triumphant texts you’ve received from your neighbourhood mom friends about the classes they’ve gotten into. You know what, Melissa? YOU’RE NOT SPECIAL. Maybe you just got lucky.


Call Grandma. “Um, hi Mom. So…do you think you could take the kid for the month of July and teach him some hip hop?”