Saturday, June 26, 2010

You can dress them up, but you can't take them out.

Ben believes in "family time". He is big on going out on adventures and taking the kid and bonding or whatever. Every weekend, rather than stay at home and sleep (my preferred way to spend a Sunday) Ben wants to go out somewhere to some park or event or kid-friendly venue to "have some fun" together. But it's never actually any fun.

The idea of this is not entirely familiar to me. My parents learned really early that when you take a small child out to do something, it is hardly ever actually for their enjoyment and almost always for yours. So they stopped taking me to Chuck E Cheese and started just letting me tag along when they went to cookouts and bar hopping. And I didn't know the difference. I thought it was awesome that everyone would give me quarters for the video games and let me raise hell inside the house while the adults got drunk in the backyard. To me, that was family time.

Ben on the other hand had a mother who took him places. Fun places. Ben went to Disney World. And to gigantic amusement parks and to Hawaii. Ben has all these great memories that he wants Lila to have. And to a point, I think it's nice and all. But here's the thing...

Lila is just about 3. First off, I don't think she is going to remember whether we went to the zoo or sat in the backyard and threw rocks at squirrels. She will most likely only remember the way we traumatized her when we made her sit on the potty at the restaurant and the auto-flush went off and (literally) scared the piss out of her.

But even more importantly, going anywhere with this kid requires a lot of planning and a lot of patience. We have to go early enough so that she isn't grumpy and tired but late enough so that she can have a decent breakfast. We have to bring things to amuse her but not the same things we brought last time. We have to make sure we are going somewhere close enough that if she has another "potty" incident, we can get home in time to not have her pooping in her pants. And the truth is, it's stressful.

And what do we usually seem to get for all the stress of making this wonderful outing for our 3-year old? A screaming miserable brat. Any time we plan to take her somewhere that is specifically a kid place, she is a total asshole the entire time. I hate carnivals. But Ben insisted that we take her. And what did she do? She cried because she was tired. She cried because they only had Sprite and not orange soda. She cried because she needed to be a full 4 inches taller to ride on one of the rides and then screamed because she was terrified on one of the kiddie rides.

Even when we do things that are supposed to be "fun for the whole family" it isn't any fun. We went to the beach last weekend. Previous to Lila, the beach was one of my favorite things to do. Its hot and sunny and I can people watch and read and just relax. But there is absolutely NOTHING relaxing about going to the beach with a 3 year old. Besides the 2 trips from the car we had to make because we needed to bring enough toys, food, and drinks to keep her content for a few hours, I barely got to sit down because she likes to run in the sand. Ben took her in the water and the entire time I had to watch because I quite frankly don't trust that he wouldn't let her out of his site just long enough for her to be a subject of a "human chain" (which, by the way I cannot believe they still do. I have NEVER heard a story about the human chain kicking someone under the water). Between the crying to go into the water, the crying because the water is too cold, the crying because the sand castle wouldn't stand up and the crying because we tried to help her with her sand castle, I wanted to walk straight into the water with rocks in my pockets and just keep on going...

Ben says he wants to have nice memories with her. He says he wants her to have these nice memories and to have a better childhood than I did. And although I highly doubt I will be taking Lila to any bars in the near future (it was a different time then), I still don't see the point of taking the kid out anywhere if she is going to be just as miserable as she is at home bored.

I hope this changes as she gets older because I am ready to just quit the fucking family outings in favor of "family chore day" and "family watch TV day" every weekend.


  1. Lila's obviously just too young for these big outings. And your husband needs to understand that most people don't remember much from their childhoods before about age 5 or so, so he's wasting his time trying to make memories with her at this age - especially if she's so tired, hungry and out of sorts that she can't appreciate what's going on around her.

    I swear, parents put themselves and their kids through a lot of unnecessary shit just because they have some image in their heads of "the way things should be." Or they want to re-create their own childhood for their child, which CAN'T BE DONE. Different kid, different world, different life. I really wish people would get over it and take their cues from the child. When he or she is old enough to start wanting to go places, he or she will say, "Mommy, Daddy, can we go to such-and-such?" Then you go and you have a good time with no "making memories" agenda. And the memories make themselves!

  2. This post was GREAT and SO kids are 8 and 10 now (thank you sweet Jesus) and it has gotten SO much easier. I remember those hellish days when they were under five. Not always hell....but many a hellish moment do I recall. You are SO right about the utter disappointment and grief in taking them places. My ex- had the brilliant idea at the time of taking them at 2 and 4 to France with us for a month. I remember thinking how only two little kids could turn a luxury trip to France into the annoying exhausting ordeal that it turned out to be. We're divorced now, I remarried, and his snooty little girlfriend was just the other day telling me how she wants 3-4 of her own kids someday. I just nodded and told her how much fun a big family can be and how nice that would be for them someday. Secretly, I was very meanly snickering to myself about the HELLISH exhausting days she has to look forward to. Hahahahaha!

    Hang in there with Lila- it does get MUCH easier as they get older. My daughter really became more of a "human' by first she's really a cool girl and I actually enjoy her company most of the time.

  3. Oh my God I love this blog. I have a just-turned-2-year-old son and I can relate to so many of the things you say here.

    I often feel guilty because grandma takes him 3 days a week from 10 am until 7 pm and some days when I pick him up I'm like "What's wrong with me, I should be glad to see my son not pissed because he's filthy and won't listen to me."

    Of course I am 38 weeks pregnant at the moment, I don't know what possessed me to have another but it just makes toddler-dom all the more 'fun' to deal with. Trying to heft a 2 year old who's screaming face down on the concrete up past a huge belly when I'm not 'allowed' to pick up more than 25 pounds... is awesome.

  4. I have the "joy" of having a 6 year old, 3 year old, and a 6 month old. Sometimes I find myself in tears because the boys are fighting, and my 6 month old daughter decides to scream, for no apparent reason at the same time. And, I have one of those abnormally whiney 3 year olds. My 6 year old was NEVER this whiney, so it always grates on my nerves. They can't be reasoned with. My hubby always wants to go places, and I keep reminding him, what happened last time, but he just doesn't learn. So, you're not alone. My life is a living fiery underworld too.

  5. this is awesome. i can't tell you how many times i've felt and thought the exact same things. i have a 7 year old girl and a 3 year old boy and their mission this summer seems to be to drive me absolutely insane. i love them, but this motherhood stuff seriously sucks sometimes.


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