THE BLOG
12/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

My Most Over-the-Top Moment as a Mother

I have had so many over-the-top moments as a mother in the Hover Generation (haven't we all?) that it may be hard to select just one.

I don't think it was the time when I walked around for days with a mental image of the exact shade of green velvet of one of my then-preschooler's party outfit to find a matching purse. I don't even think it was the moment I fantasized confronting and cursing out the mother who had allowed her then-9 year old to exclude mine from a birthday party.

So it must be the moment I recruited (unasked) a fencing coach for her high school.

Here's the back story: In ninth grade, my daughter discovered that fencing fulfilled her P.E. requirement. All right, she also realized her terrific physics teacher was the coach.
She stuck (sorry) with this sport, and only this sport.

So I found myself accompanying her to watch fencing matches in (often-smelly) gyms. I even watched one in the New York Athletic club, where I am sure women long were banned. I learned the names of the three types of weapons- sabre, epee and foil - even if I couldn't tell them apart. I met Fencing Mothers, the ones who already knew the name of every fencing coach in the Ivy League.

Later, I even got to watch her compete. You just haven't lived until you've seen someone lunge at your child with what appears to be an electrified sword. Or listened to her explain that death was possible, although unlikely, because of the construction of the lame (jacket).

Despite the possibilities of electrocution, dismemberment and death, it began to dawn on me that this Zorro-like activity could be her edge (sorry) in the college admission process. So when the fencing coach made noises each year about wanting to move to Seattle, I reminded him how rainy it was. Eventually, he did decide to move to Seattle. He planned to do so the summer before her senior year. I was beside myself.

How, I worried, could she explain on her college applications why she stopped fencing senior year?

Of course, I approached her school. There ensued many emails as school personnel tried to determine who exactly was in charge of the after-school fencing activity, since it was a club sport, and not a team sport. Was it the athletic director? (According to him, no.) Was it th head of P.E.? (According to her, no) Was it the head of the Upper School? (According to many, no).

So I went to the top, to the principal. I don't want to say he was completely unconcerned, but let's just say he had a few other fish to fry. I tried involving the other parents but their kids had other sports, so they didn't share my concern.

I realized that the fencing role could be uncoupled from the physics instructor part. Finding another physics teacher who could also coach fencing seemed too ambitious. Clearly, hiring a physics replacement was something that was the school's role, and something the school would do. I even made a large (for me) contribution to the school to continue the fencing program. The school did then include fencing as a sport in need of a coach in a desultory ad it ran. With no one either in charge of the sport or in hot pursuit of a coach for it, I had little hope.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. I approached this hire as though it were a headhunting assignment. My researchers found all the fencing programs and coaches in New York City. I contacted each of them to ask about their availability to freelance (again, sorry) or their suggestions of someone who could coach two afternoons a week. Finally, my cyber-networking and meetings with many people (all named Sergey) led me to my prey. I found a person whose resume was too stellar to be dismissed. A brand new Ivy League graduate, he was ranked first in the US and he wanted to be in New York to train for the Olympics (and, all right, be near his girlfriend).

He was, not to put too sharp a point on it (ouch, sorry, again), perfect. How could the school not hire him? It did.