I know this topic has been covered by every parenting blogger under the sun, no doubt, but I always love to add my two cents. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since the babies in fine dining establishments fiasco has been all over social media this week.
If you need a clue, the owner/chef of Chicago’s very own Alinea, Grant Achatz, tweeted his conundrum when two dinner guests brought along their eight month old baby and caused a stir with the things that eight month old babies are wont to do — cry and carry on. Except Alinea is not your average restaurant. It’s upscale even compared to upscale restaurants. You need a ticket rather than a reservation. Most critics compare it to culinary theater. Not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your gustatory boat, right?
Anyway. So then I started thinking about other things that are harder with kids, worse with kids, more complicated with kids. You get my point. Without further ado . . .
Ten Things That Are Worse with Children
10. Grocery Shopping. Can I get a witness? What should take 20-30 minutes often ends up taking an hour or more. Kids love to request things they know they’re never gonna get, but if there is just a sliver of a chance Mom or Dad will say yes, well then, yep, it’s worth asking for the umpteenth time. And do not even get me started on the car shopping carts or the toddler sized carts at Trader Joes. NO.
9. Airplanes. This one tends to make the news cycles, too, every few months. Yes, children on planes can be a handful. I remember so well the first time I traveled with a child. My oldest was just six weeks old and her aunt was getting married. Nothing to do but pop on a plane, so we did. You could just see the dread as I carried my bundle of joy down the crowded aisle, the palpable relief as I passed row after row of passengers. Those folks got a reprieve. Gratefully, we’ve never had an episode with a meltdown, but, to our credit, we take precautions. Lots of books, toys, distractions, juice, nibbles, etc. It’s all in the planning, yo.
8. Post Offices. There are few errands I hate more than the post office. I think it’s just dumb luck, but my neighborhood is saddled with some of the most sour postal workers out there. And slow as molasses. But add babies, toddlers, or young kids to that mix, UGH. They make an un-fun task downright cruel. And whereas most folks not in an airplane tend to at least smile at a baby, we had a postal worker last fall who lectured me because someone had sent a gift and addressed it to the baby in my arms. Um, how exactly do I tell someone who is surprising me with a gift for a newborn not to address it to that newborn? Guess I should have put it in the baby announcements (which I have yet to mail, BTW).
7. Road Trips. Families on road trips are comedy gold. National Lampoon’s Vacation. Little Miss Sunshine. We’re the Millers. But long road trips with actual families, you know with kids and all, are sometimes a lot less fun. Or funny. They’re an endurance event, a familial marathon, the great litmus test of what will go first — your patience or your electronic’s battery power. Add to that a family that has opted out of electronics as road trip pacifier, like ours, well, you’re looking at some serious, hard core entertainment you best be providing to keep the little ones happy and content. And the food? Ugh. When Cracker Barrel starts looking good, you know it’s time to get home.
6. Dinner Time. I don’t know about your kiddos, but mine tend to eat a full breakfast and lunch, and a small dinner. Sort of just the opposite of Mom and Dad. And he is physically incapable of sitting through a meal. It’s like watching a yo-yo that keeps getting unspooled. And there is the ever present question, often at the top of the meal, “How many bites?” Ugh. Word to the wise, I serve what I serve. If the younger set doesn’t eat it, it’s PB&J, end of story.
5. The Flu. It’s horrible to be sick. It’s horrible to see your kids sick. It’s worse to be sick and still have to care for the little ones, but most of the time, there is no second string, no back-up plan. When I’m sick and the husband’s not around, well, buck up, little beaver, it’s showtime! Pop that Tylenol, sip that juice, and keep that remote close to hand. We’re gonna get through this with a little help from Uncle Walt and his pals at Disney Jr.
4. Restaurants. Fancy restaurants aside, even standard no-frills establishments can be a drag with kids. Eating out is supposed to be a break for the cook in the family, but with kids, not so much. By the time you pack everything you need to keep everyone happy, it seems just as simple to stay at home and call up Dominos. It’s interesting. We’ve got one child, at five, who can pretty much be amused with what we find on the table — sugar packets, creamers, etc. Our youngest is just four months old, so that’s easy, too. But coming down the pike I can see that time when it will get hard again. When you have to pack an arsenal of amusements to get through a meal at Panera. Crayons, paper, cars, crackers, water bottles, etc. Yeah, eating out with the little ones is not so much fun.
3. Hangovers. Now don’t get all Judgey McJudgerson here. I can count on two or three fingers the number of hangovers I’ve had since my kids have been around. Not bad for over eight years of the occasional night out. But damn, those two or three hangovers have absolutely, positively been complicated with little ones around. The truth is, alcohol over indulgence and children just don’t mix. There is no sweet relief of sleeping in the next day or a leisurely meal of grease to help pull you through. Nope. You’ve just got to down an aspirin, swig some water, and get on with your day. And pray the kids don’t make too much noise.
2. ED Commercials. Erectile dysfunction, yo. There’s nothing quite like sitting down to some Sunday afternoon game with the kiddo when a commercial for Cialis comes on. “What’s ED, Mom?” “Why are those people taking a bath outside in the forest?” I dread those commercials like the plague. I mean, how do you answer that question?! “Well, son, there might come a time in your future where your penis just isn’t functioning like it used to . . .” NO!
1. Public Bathrooms. Hands down, there is no place more difficult with children than navigating public restrooms. Or should I say “hands up,” like way, way up, like “Put your hands up and don’t you dare touch a thing, Billy!” But for the little ones, wow, there are levers and buttons and garbage cans and odd shaped toilet seats and just so much to do and see. Grimace. And then washing hands afterwards, hoisting 50 pounds of child up to the sink and there being no working soap or towels. Ugh. You just shake your head and do the best you can.
But that’s parenting, right? Doing the best you can. And lest this list got you down, tune in tomorrow when I will do a companion post about ten things that are better with children. Yes, it’s true. The wee set make so many things in life better.