When I was a kid, I had no taste. I was repulsed by sushi, thought beer was gross, and only wanted to vacation in places with the prefix of “Disney.” As I got older, I shed my naïve proclivities and embraced the wonders of adulthood. Wine bars! EuroRail! Pad thai! The world was my oyster (yummm… oysters).
Then I had kids, and my sensibilities all went kablooey. Things I’d rejected as an adult look much more appealing through the fingerprint-covered glasses of motherhood. Things like these…
1. Chain Restaurants. My inner foodie scoffs. Bad food. Indifferent service. A birthday at every table. Yet, despite the abundance of quality dining options off the turnpike, I always find myself at Friendly’s, the place to go if you like ice cream for breakfast, or food-related ulcers. Now, it’s where my kids can trash the shit out of the place and still get a balloon on the way out.
2. Children’s Programming. Those programmers are geniuses! At first glance, the insipid colors and shapes set to music don’t make a lick of sense, even if someone dropped a ton of acid before viewing. But place a 10-month-old in front of a Sprout “show” (there doesn’t seem to be a clear beginning or end to most segments) and it’s a riveting way to spend four hours each morning. And although my toddler agrees on the shrill awfulness of Dora and Sofia (“Mommy, why does she yell when she talks?”), she still insists that I buy her light-up sneakers with their faces on it. So, kiddie channels: keep up the good work.
3. FaceTime/Skype. I am a multi-tasker at heart, and I’m pretty sure people would be horrified and/or insulted to see what I’m actually doing while having a phone conversation. I really didn’t see the need for virtual communication…until I had to spend a night away from my toddler. Since she couldn’t quite figure out how to angle the phone, I had a heartwarming FaceTime conversation with the upper left quadrant of her face. Best of all, even though her teeth were covered in purple marker, her hair was covered in hummus, and she was wearing her pajamas underneath her clothes, it was completely out of my hands.
4. Family Trips. As a kid, I didn’t get my parents’ idea of fun. Museums: I had to be quiet, not touch anything, and the cafes never served funnel cake. National landmarks: Stay away from the railing, don’t touch anything, and no funnel cake. Visiting family: stop being weird, put your arm around your cousin, no funnel cake. As a mother, I totally see the appeal of dragging my brood wherever I want: wineries, distilleries, breweries…and if everyone’s on their best behavior: funnel cake.
5. Malls. I’ve had nightmares that involved walking through a mall that had no beginning and no end, just endless sunglasses kiosks, food courts, tweens, and an ominously looming Macys. Malls used to be the place I’d go to kill time and lose my soul. But having two children born in the wintertime made me appreciate an indoor place to stroll them around, the ability to run multiple errands simultaneously, and many opportunities to eat a Cinnabon.
6. Minivans. A minivan represents everything I fear most about parenting: a complete surrender of self into the bloat of other people’s needs. Plus, it’s a bitch to park. My husband and I like to trash-talk the minivan as we cram our sedan with Pack’n’Plays, Boppys, high chairs, a double stroller, three suitcases filled entirely with diapers, and enough toys to entertain our kids for at least a minute. We may not be able to see out any window, our trunk spontaneously pops open if we hit a bump, and we have to unload the entire car in order to find a clean diaper. But at least we have our super-cool sense of self.
7. School. Growing up, it was a time-filler between sleeping and having fun. With kids, it’s a place to drop them off so I can go home to sleep and have fun.
8. Stickers. In my younger days, I never really understood the point of stickers. Little pieces of colorful adhesive that you put on something, and can never ever ever peel off again. Fun? But now, with my little ones, I fully embrace —
Oh, who am I kidding? The bottoms of all my shoes are coated in Hello Kitty’s visage, my fridge is permanently Frozen, and don’t get me started on the glue stains left on my kids’ clothes when I forget to remove stickers before washing them. Stickers are the worst. The. Worst.
9. Kid Entertainment Places. Before I had kids, I’m pretty sure I blocked these places from my mental existence. Then I gave birth, and a Google Map was uploaded into my brain, highlighting the nearest playgrounds, Chuck E Cheeses, petting zoos, and theme parks. Nowadays, I’m always pissed when I can’t pay for my coffee with game tokens.
10. Kids. They’re sticky, loud, and spend a lot of time defecating. They ruin movies, interrupt my sleep, and coat every surface of my home with body fluids. They make me go to malls, eat at Applebee’s, and drive a car bigger than a space shuttle.
But I’ll be damned if I don’t love every bit of it (except, of course, stickers).
Related post: The 10 Worst Places To Go With Kids