Parenting is hard, but donkey braiding is harder.

The worst part about school starting back up again is that there are suddenly a million clubs and advanced classes and other things that make you feel like a shitty parent for pushing your kid to do them and also for not pushing your kid to do them.

I’ve been thinking about it and I believe the only viable option I have to combat the guilt that comes when another mother asks me why my child isn’t in the League of Fancy Horseback-Riding Chess Players is to just make up my imaginary own classes that Hailey is in and then not let anyone else in. Classes like “Duck Grooming” or “Teaching Dogs To Whistle” or “Intramural Sheep Dancing.”

“Oh, your 9 month old is a black belt?” I can hear myself saying. “That is adorable. We’d like to sign our child up for fun little things like that but she’s just far too busy with her Competitive Donkey Braiding. It’s very popular at Ivy League schools. You’ve never heard of it? Well, no, you probably wouldn’t have. It’s very exclusive. In fact, the first rule of Competitive Donkey Braiding is…well, I’ve already said too much.”

PS. If you’re having the same problem you can totally tell people that your kid is in Competitive Donkey Braiding and I will back you up 100%.  In fact, if there’s a party you want to avoid you can just tell people that you can’t go because we’re too busy since we’re about to go to the State championships.  Again.  WE’RE THAT GOOD.

PPS.  Yes, it is real, Susan.  Look at my shirt.  

102 thoughts on “Parenting is hard, but donkey braiding is harder.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. We don’t have donkey braiding in my part of Canada. But we DO have Competitive Synchronized Donkey Dressage…. motto “my ass is grass”. I’m forcing my kid into it this year. Yes, I’m THAT parent. But come on, the matching tutus with ones donkey is just too effing cute, y’know?

  2. When Marcia Brady was looking to pad her college application with extracurricular activities, she joined the Westdale Boosters. Aside from being kinda stuffy and freaking out when Peter’s volcano spewed mud on their dresses, the members of that club didn’t really seem to have any sort of agenda. If you tell the other parents that Hailey will be dedicating all of her after school time to the Boosters, people will be impressed AND they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. Kind of a win-win.

  3. The Bloggess Pals on Facebook group have a thread for coming up with ideas of Bloggess Pal shirt ideas. They would totally laugh to see this shirt. To bad you couldn’t put Bloggess Pals somewhere on the shirt.

  4. This is the kind of activity I would have excelled at in high school. I feel that I missed out…

  5. My daughter sings constantly. We told her she had to sign up for choir and you’d have thought we’d just sentenced her to hard labor in a desert prison camp. Did I mention that she never stops singing? Now I’m just going to sign her up for stuff for my own entertainment. I wish there actually was donkey braiding – that would go well with her second obsession; YouTube videos on how to braid her hair.

  6. “Oh that must be the lesser club to my child’s Llama flossing. Also quite impressive on ivy league college applications but let of a chance of carpal tunnel syndrome.”

    You crack me up!!
    By the way Llama Flossing is not a thing and neither is that imaginary child I spoke of…unless I can teach my pitbull to floss a llama…and in that case I am going to be so rich that I will officially create both clubs (fully funded, of course!)

  7. I have questions.

    Does “donkey braiding” involve braiding three donkeys together into one mega-donkey? Or is it merely about braiding donkey tails and manes and prettying them up with ribbons? Or something else entirely that my imagination isn’t capable of?

  8. You can add a line on the back of the shirt: “It’s all fun and games until someone gets kicked in the face.”

  9. This is how we find each other at group things… you hear someone mention their child is competing in Donkey Braiding, and you can ask, “Oh! Do you train with coach Jenni too?”

  10. Honestly, I would be much more interested in the Duck Grooming group. Do you know how I can find out where my local club meets? Gary the Guard Duck would be interested in being a model. Pictures available.

  11. Is Competitive Donkey Braiding only for kids?
    My first thought only regret about reading this post is that I don’t have kids, and therefore any way to use this written brilliance… but perhaps this could be applied to adults too?
    Like – for why I don’t get my ass to yoga. Or do team sport anything. Or jog. Or do anything someone else wants me to do…
    Jenny, there could be adult and kid CDP ass kickers, right? Please say yes. 🙂

    (There’s totally adult donkey braiding. You can’t just let those skills atrophy after you leave school. I’m getting a shirt for myself.DONKEY BRAIDERS FOR LIFE. ~ Jenny)

  12. Parental guilt never goes away so don’t stress about it. Making up stuff sounds very good to me though. Sign me up for a couple. I could be your beard! Yea we have so much fun….too bad you can’t come heh heh heh

  13. Reminds me of a novel I once read, in which the main character didn’t like telling people she was a writer, so she’d make up a different career every time she was asked, “So… what do you do?”

    My favorite response was, “Oh, I’m in puppet repair.”

    Someday I’ma use that.

  14. LOL!! Btw….duck grooming is legit because the fowl have to be bathed & groomed before showing 😉

  15. I know someone in TX who has a donkey rescue. She’s not far from Houston and she and her husband, and the herd, came through Harvey OK. I bet she knows a thing or two about Donkey Braiding.

  16. In junior high we would make up future careers like iguana rancher or scab picker. My first job out of college was at a horse farm. After a wet spell, the horses came down with rain rot. To treat it, you have to pick off the scabs and treat the skin with betadine. Yes, I was being paid to be a scab picker. Have yet to look into iguana ranching.

  17. Huh. And I was wasting my morning looking up pictures of cats wearing hoop skirts (as in Gone with the Wind).

  18. I wonder if I would have been a total asshole as a parent. I like to think, not, but it’s the unsuspecting ones who tend to be the worst. Team Donkey braiding is where I stand right now, as a non-parent, because all the cool kids are in or want to be in that fucking club.

  19. You’re competing at state levels? That’s so sweet! I wish we had stopped at State, but we bit the bullet and went on to International, which is a right biotch. The French have dominated Donkey Braiding since 1993. We’re thinking about investing in a My Little Pony next year because the more hair they have, the fewer weaves you have to add. But you already know that.

  20. I used to do competitive Donkey braiding but recently it’s gone so commercial. It used to be about the braiding, but now its all about lining up corporate sponsors. .

  21. Gosh. How I love you. Let me count the ways…nope, way too many. I am having awful anxiety and dread at the moment as part of my ‘condition’, I know you relate, it is something that can come in waves and is not necessarily predictable or rational, though lordie, folks seem to NEED to understand, but YOU always make me feel better. Even if just a crack in the dark. You are that sliver of light. Thank you. If you send me a donkey I will be yours forever. From my side of the pond to yours. <3

  22. Cat currying and dog doodling. I also donlizard lunging, fish finagling, goat griping, duck dancing and chicken clucking. I have lots of animals but my daughter is grown. She can carm snakes

    Sent from my iPhone


  23. In regard to careers, I had an artist friend who, if he didn’t feel like telling people that, told people he was a rubber spatula salesman

  24. I need to be better at coming up with pretend clubs for my son to be in. Because we suck at finding things that he can succeed at.

  25. Deer Shit Art Classes. That’s what we did when I was a kid. We went out into the bush and found Deer Shit, then took it back to the art room, stuck toothpicks in it and made Deer out of Deer Shit and sprayed it with some shellac so it would last forever. Some kids put little red dots on the Deer’s nose and called it Rudolph. One kid made a whole Nativity Scene with Deer Shit. When I took mine home to Mom she went “Ewww……what in goodness is that?” and I said “It’s Deer Shit. This is what we do in school now – play with Deer Shit.” and she threw it in the garbage. Right after she slapped me for swearing. Apparently I was supposed to call it Poop.

  26. Remember that Hailey’s on the VARSITY Competitive Donkey Braiding Team — none of this JV shit for her! 😉

    The school where I taught also had a Synchronized Spiderweb Weaving Team, but I don’t know if you want Hailey putting teeny tiny Gentle Leaders on Orb Weavers and teaching them to spell multisyllabic words in formation. PM me if you want training tricks.

  27. I just want to warn you that Competitive Donkey Braiding can be intense at the higher levels. BecomingCliche has mentioned the false weaves, and some competitors have added weave-in braids. And the payoffs to the judges! There is a seedy underbelly to the glitz and glamour of Donkey Braiding. Just be sure that Hailey understands it’s for fun, and perhaps also the excitement of seeing your three bow sequined Donkey Braid take first prize

    If the pressure is too much, I suggest Sloth Racing, which is not as well known, but still a great learning experience.

  28. I kept reading donkey branding and I’m like I’m not going to hurt them but if it’s like advertising branding I’m up for it but then I realized I just can’t read 🤷🏼‍♀️

  29. Um isn’t she the president of the junior unicorn success club. That’s a pretty high honor.

  30. What I really wanna know is … can a donkey braid MY hair? Trust me, it’s a challenge for me to do mine. 🐫 OKAY. I know it’s not a donkey emoji, it’s a camel. Obviously, emjohi-ing for donkeys is non hip for them.

  31. Um, even with the period after Ass. that wouldn’t fly at my school. When my now 27 year old was in second grade, her teacher nicknamed her “Special K” (obvi, her name starts with K). So, when she was in 6th grade, we found a Special K tee shirt (with the Special K logo). I got it for her, she wore it to school and I received a call saying she couldn’t wear it because it promoted drug use. Evidently “Special K” is some sort of animal sedation drug that is used in other ways. Sheesh.

  32. Now don’t hurt your hands and wrists too much with that braiding; we want you to continue to be able to write this blog!

  33. My kids are in their thirties now, but I would totally join any of those clubs! You rock, Jenny!

  34. Love the camel hair designs. I don’t really like telling strangers on the plane or anywhere else what I do for a living so I am adding “I am a professional donkey braiding coach”, “I am in camel fur design”, and “I’m a duck groomer” to my personal repertoire. I have been known to say “I grade piano wires”, and “I re-hair bows”, although the latter in a way doesn’t count because I actually did spend almost three years being a bow re-hairer. So it’s real. But since no one knows what that means, it usually works to stop the questions.

  35. You come up with the best ideas! Competitive Donkey Braiding… I don’t think we have many donkeys around here, but we have lizards for miles, so maybe competitive lizard-tail braiding?

  36. My Ghod, woman, you’ve cut to the heart of clubs! As a sponsor of a High School club in “one of the best schools in the country”, I must demand Student Activities add Competetive Donkey Braiding!

  37. Oh man…I’m that mom too! Wish i would have thought of these. Kids are old enough to sign up and drive to all the activities…like donkey dressage. 😲😊👾

  38. I REALLY REALLY wish you lived next door to me!! (I was gonna say worked in my office, but then I really would never get any work done)

  39. We had to pull my daughter out of donkey braiding this year. It’s just too competitive in our area.

  40. Damn! I really want to be the State Champion of Donkey Braiding. Forget the kids! Sign me up!

  41. Thank you Jenny for Donkey Braiding and to Pam Sowerwine for the Poitou donkey. Wonder how many of us saved that pin?

  42. Hilarious today! Competitive Donkey Braiding. Reminds me of some little shit who asked what kind of majors we had at Pepperdine and before I could answer he said “Underwater Basket Weaving?”


    Sent from my iPad


  43. I know this is supposed to be the kind of conversation to have on twitter but my twitter is locked and is a display photo of a headless hot body – that’s confusing – but the point is I thought you would like this and you should look at this if you have not | P.s. he is still updating this in real time on his twitter

    (I’ve been loving watching this story. ~ Jenny)

  44. I like telling people I am a shepherdess. I even put it on my IRS form. The reality is that I own 12 sheep and have to round them up sometimes but mostly just watch them out the window. It’s pretty relaxing work most days. Except when the sheep are naughty.

  45. Pleeease add children-sized tshirts with this logo! I showed my husband your post and his reaction was “OMG we have to buy one in a childs size and put it on our daughter!”

    (You can switch the the t-shirt to any type you want. Where it says “style” you can choose kids or mens or whatever you want with the same logo. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  46. Things must have gotten way different from when I was in elementary/middle school, yikes. I did absolutely zero after-school activities until I reached high school (and only then in eleventh and twelfth grade: Scholar’s Bowl). My sister did marching band in high school, but nothing in elementary school. My mom probably didn’t hang around with the crazy PTO moms who were all about “JIMMY NEEDS 3.2 MILLION EXTRACURRICULARS SO HE CAN MAKE IT TO HARVARD!”

    I like your plan 😉

  47. If Carol finds out where the Iguana Ranching takes place, please tell her to contact me. My childhood skills are not up to snuff. Iguana Ranchers, where the leather meets the road.

  48. I am seriously considering getting this shirt, because I am so tired of the family asking why Zoe isn’t in Girls on the Run this year. Because they don’t offer it Barbara. They offer Donkey Braiding instead and she’s kicking ass at it.

  49. I love the small print. “Bad Ass.”
    I love your brain. ie how you think, No, I’m not a zombie!

  50. Winner! My kids, 10 and 13, are signed up for NOTHING extracurricular. They have no interest. I am so thrilled I have to drive no one to such-and-such away something-or-other.

  51. I just sent my 15 yr old your blog link, and told her I was signing her up for competitive donkey braiding. I’m wondering what will happen….

  52. I never had my kid do most of those things. It was too exhausting to consider, I didn’t want to have to engage w/ other mothers (I always did — and still do — feel like a freak when I’m around them.) Then there was nothing she was aching to do so I thought: fuck it. I’m not going to push it. She’s heading into her senior year at high school tomorrow and I still don’t regret that. She had actual free time in her life, down time, day dreaming time. I think all those things are seriously under-rated. (Or, at least, that’s how I justified it all…)

  53. I am SO glad I am not alone in the guilt. I never know what I should do with my kids. Looks like Donkey Braiding is calling our names!

  54. In college several of my friends participated in Ballet for the Terminally Strange. Best part: no recitals.

  55. This is hilarious. More and more it seems like parenting in itself is a competitive sport. Maybe I’ll take up Donkey Braiding.

  56. Iguanas are good eating… they’re raised for meat in Central&South America, and we had some on honeymoon in Aruba.
    Tastes like chicken…but you can raise MANY more iguanas per acre than you can chickens, AND it’s most effective when you keep the native rainforest….so some environmental groups are helping small farmers start up iguana-raising operations. Raise a threatened species so you can eat some and release some.

  57. OMG! This made me laugh so hard! I am not a parent but that doesn’t stop people from doing the same thing to me. In fact, for me, it likely feels even worse because most of them know I’m not a parent due to infertility. So it also stings a little bit. I do reply with a little pet parent bragging. I mean, my boy is very smart and I have taught him tons of tricks. Ya think they will fall for it if I tell them my fur baby is competing in Donkey Braiding?? I’m totally trying it next time!

  58. This is hilarious! I’ve dealt with people thinking I “push” my kids into too much, but the thing is they’d never try anything if I didn’t push them a little. Plus, they’re MY kids and we mothers have to remember we’re doing the best we can and no one knows our children the way we do……. and oh yeah…..who gives a s*+! what other people think. 🙂

  59. I’m a CHAMPION at donkey braiding! In fact, I only became an accountant to support my habit.

  60. I can’t wait to try this with my sister’s donkeys. I mean, I got to paint Assbutt on one of them this summer. I never thought I could top that, but…..

  61. Love this! thats so funny! I can just imagine the creative spin offs other mums will make from this! I certainly have a couple in mind! Good read 🙂

  62. I want this shirt so mich but wear a uniform at work and I want to wear the fact that I am a champion donkey braider all the time and so I would very much like it if you could make this into a hat please if you do that then I will eventually stop this run on sentence….but seriously. Please make it available as a hat. If you do, I promise to buy 2. So that I have a backup in case the first one is stolen because obviously it probably will be because it is awesome.

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