The High Maintenance Child Quiz

by Helen Elizabeth Boulos
Originally Published: 
A young boy in a white shirt, screaming

Years ago, I was out at dinner with some very down to earth friends. Dad was a doctor and mom a publisher, but they didn’t aspire to the Pinterest life or Pinterest house. They had two kids and their idea of entertaining them was “go outside and dig in the dirt, catch a frog, make a fort.” They didn’t believe in video games, or play rooms designed by Yale educated engineers to engage a child’s five senses, or any undiscovered senses they might have. They lived in a lovely but not gargantuan house, with the feeling that four people don’t require 20,000 square feet to survive. And their down to Earth parenting was what I loved about them. Their kids rode bikes, ate what you gave them and said “please,” and “thank you,” so in my book they were doing a great job.

One night at dinner our friend told us that his little boy, in kindergarten at the time, had invited a friend over to play. Apparently when the friend pulled up to the house he complemented them on their “very cute,” home, asking, “is this all of it?”

When they went inside the friend asked their little boy, ”where is the playroom?” And their son responded “I don’t have a play room.”

“Then where do you play?”

The little boy said “I play in my room.”

“Oh,” responded the friend, “Where is the Wii?”

“I don’t have a Wii, but we can play outside.”

And thus the play date went until dinner, when the family started to set the outdoor table and light the grill.

“What are you cooking?” asked the friend.

“Well son, it’s a cook out, I’m grilling burgers and corn.”

“Oh, it’s Kobe beef right? I can only eat Kobe beef.”

“No son, it’s Costco, 20% ground chuck.”

And that was that. That child was OTL (off the list).

After that dinner I told my children that there is no faster way to get yourself on the black list, also known as the HMCL — High Maintenance Child List, than being demanding or rude. It is with the high maintenance child in mind that I have developed the following questionnaire to be administered before play dates, so as to make feeding, entertaining and housing other children a more pleasant experience, for us.

Please indicate what category of eater your child is:

a) Vegan

b) Gluten-free c) Gluten and sugar-free d) Dairy and gluten-free, meat okay e) Nut free, dairy free, gluten okay f) Will eat any foods as long as they do not touch on the plate g) Will only drink soda, even if you do not have soda, and cannot give them soda h) Will eat any food so long as it is colorless, and has no sauce, condiment or dressing

Sleep Overs— Please notify me of the following:

a) Your child has not slept past 5AM, ever, this child is also used to a full breakfast and entertainment being provided at 5AM, I should have a clown suit and griddle ready to go when the roosters crow.

b) Your child has trouble falling asleep without back rubbing, I should sharpen my masseuse skills as I will need to rub your child’s back for three hours before they go to bed. c) Your child is such a healthy eater that if I allow them buttered popcorn and pizza I should be prepared for head spinning and projectile vomiting at 4AM if I allow this type of food. d) Your child hasn’t slept in his or her own bed, ever, I should be prepared for a midnight visitor.

We have several animals, how should we prepare?

a) Your child has cat allergies but the dogs are okay.

b) Your child loves cats but is afraid of dogs. c) Your child has cat allergies and does not like dogs, please board all animals. d) Your child’s allergies require me to install a full house air filter and run it for twenty four hours to remove all signs of animal dander before play date.

What toys should be ready for play time?

a) Legos, but not a proper “sets,” creativity is stunted by the directions.

b) Legos, a proper set, please make sure not a single piece is missing, the directions are key for a fun time building. c) American Girl Dolls, with a closet, clothes, and hopefully hair dresser station. d) Any toy, as long as it isn’t made in China.

Television and Movies:

a) Your child may watch PG-13 as long as there is no bad language or sexual innuendo, violence is okay, we don’t want to shelter them too much.

b) Your child may watch PG-13 as long as there is no violence, strong language and some sexual innuendo okay. c) Your child may not watch any television at all, studies have shown this could lower your only child’s IQ and/or attention span. d) Your child can watch whatever s/he wants, s/he has three older siblings, are you seriously asking me this question, I have seven million other emails to respond to regarding the 2658 activities I am taking said three other children to this weekend, please keep the child alive, that is your only request.

What type of activity would your child enjoy the most?

a) Your child likes to bake gluten-free Pinterest inspired cupcakes with politically correct decorations on them, perhaps a Mother Theresa topped merengue?

b) Your child likes to make short films, maybe the budding director would like us to have some costumes, high-tech video equipment and a computer for video editing. c) Your child enjoys board games, you will send the manual of the adjusted game rules for whatever his/her favorite games are (ie, no sending people back to start in SORRY, it’s bad for self-esteem, we loan money as needed in Monopoly to ensure no one actually loses, again issues with self-esteem). d) Your child enjoys the visual arts. You will send a list of his/her preferred medium, letting me know if crayons are unacceptable and seen as inferior to chalk based and felt tip markers.

What household rules shall we follow?

a) Drinks and food should be allowed throughout the household to avoid low blood sugar.

b) Plastic covers should be put over all furniture, along wallpaper covered walls and over tables. Children become upset if told not to put their feet on furniture. c) All breakables should be taken down and put in storage. If your child sees a delicate item and breaks it his/her spirit will be crushed if s/he realizes s/he has broken something important. But spirit will also be crushed if told not to touch in the first place, so all should just be put away. d) An indoor jungle gym should be procured and a slide assembled and put on the stairs, which aren’t for people to use to go upstairs, but are rather there for children’s amusement.

P.S. — Thank you to all of the moms who were willing to tell me their kids own high maintenance tendencies so I could compose this post, and thanks to my kids for allowing me to poke fun at some of their quirks.

P.P.S. — It’s a humor post.

P.P.P.S. — It’s not your kid, I promise.

Related post: 9 Assholes Your Kid Will End Up Friends With

This article was originally published on