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I Have Good News

Today I have spent a great deal of time in the company of young people. And by young, I don’t mean pre-law students, I mean multiple shorties under seven. I took three of them to an indoor playground for two hours where I was subjected to the smell of dirty diapers, the fear of contracting Hantavirus and the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ classic, “It’s Christmas Don’t Be Late. I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s July so this was a triple assault on my sanity. Are there no laws on the books regulating these fucking rodents? If not, there should be so call your councilman!

Luckily, there is a huge silver lining to this. I discovered that indoor playgrounds are a great opportunity to pat yourself on the back for a great job parenting so far. These indoor playgrounds are literally crawling with aggressive shorties. This was the second time in as many visits that a kid almost got kicked out for random attacks on other toddlers. In both incidents the mother/caregiver was completely checked out and seemed oblivious to how badly behaved her kid was. The first time I had to get involved because Sadie was getting shoved to the ground repeatedly by a little tyrant. Now normally when Sadie gets pushed, there’s a good chance she started it. Sadie is certainly not at the top of Santa’s list of nice girls right now but when Mattie came to tell me Sadie was getting “hit by a big boy” and I flew over to investigate I saw this 45 pound 3-year-old shove her to the ground unprovoked. He thought no one could see him because he was inside a little kitchenette but I had poked my head through the window and caught the little shit in the act.

Here’s the thing: no matter how much you may question the parenting decisions you make, your kid can’t help come out smelling like a rose next to a kid who goes around whacking other kids on the head with plastic gardening tools.

If you want to grade your parenting prowess on a curve, head to an indoor playground and stay away from anything high brow like museums or botanical gardens. Hell, even Chili’s. Just when I’ve gotten a little cocky at a Chili’s because my kids are sitting quietly coloring on their kids menus and not loudly pounding their silverware on the table like the kid at the next table whose mom is texting, is exactly the moment I look down and find that both my twins are under the table making a mountain with their mac & cheese. But hey, I always leave a good tip. 5% is generous right?

I spend an inordinate amount of time questioning my parenting: Do I give enough time-outs, too many time-outs, serve enough organic food; should I force my kids to eat quinoa even though I can barely pronounce it and mostly hate people who love it; do I allow my kids enough time to be bored, too much time to be bored; am I correctly teaching compassion, understanding, or am I teaching too much compassion and not enough kick-ass defend yourself attitude? Is Elby too young for Ivy and Bean? Too old for The Velveteen Rabbitt? Should I force Mattie and Sadie to sit through me reading “Guess How Much I Love You” because I love it even though they aren’t interested? Is it my fault that Matilda almost got a perler bead stuck up her nose yesterday?

I don’t allow these questions to paralyze me the way they did when Elby was a baby. I make my choices and move on with as much grace and confidence as I can muster. But when Sadie attempts to bite Matilda after not having done it in a year or Matilda whines without stop for 24 hours straight I can’t help but wonder if I forgot to read the right parenting book.

But then, I go to the indoor playground and get to walk out with my head held high! My parenting rules! What a high!

Just make sure you check for coupons.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 28, 2011 5:59 pmUncategorized10 comments  

10 Comments

  1. rebecca said,

    “I can’t help but wonder if I forgot to read the right parenting book.”

    I’ve read the right parenting book. Actually bookS. They are both written by this amazingly wonderful author who is quite possibly the most smartest person alive right now. Anyway, her first book is something like Sippy Cups Aren’t for Chardonnay and her other book is Nap Time is the New Happy Hour. (she has other books but they are less about parenting and more about life; and are great books too) She taught me that all the other books might tell you all the right things to do in the perfect world but she understands that this world is not perfect and a whole lot more forgiving than one would imagine so it’s okay to have a few hiccups along the way, just as long as you find the joy in raising your kids.
    rebecca´s last blog post ..Something Cheap

    | July 28, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  2. Amber said,

    Yes and just…yes. I have an illustrated post in the works about indoor playgrounds. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Okay. Mostly hate.
    Amber´s last blog post ..my official re-entry into the terrible twos…illustrated with crappy pictures™

    | July 28, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

  3. Mommy, Esq. said,

    I love this post and I feel the same way about certain “healthy” foods that I want my kids to eat but I don’t want to. :)

    | July 29, 2011 @ 2:54 am

  4. Marta said,

    I love moments when you can look at some awful child and think to yourself, damn I’ve been doing a good job. =) Sadly, my three encounters at indoor playgrounds (all birthday parties) consisted of well behaved children in Baby Gap outfits. I need to find a new indoor playground.
    Marta´s last blog post ..You’re All Grown Up

    | July 29, 2011 @ 3:55 am

  5. Lonni said,

    I love how you articulate parenthood. It’s true we constantly question ourselves, but there is always that moment where another kid does something crazy (aka kid like) and we get that sigh of relief, for that brief moment, that we are a good parent! HA!
    Another place to go is a white trash grocery store. You don’t feel bad about your kids being loud and even with loud kids you aren’t the worst in the store. Just beware that your kids will pick up a few swear words. It’s a toss, feel like a good parent or kids learning to swear…

    | July 29, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  6. Wilson said,

    Love, love, love the list… “Do I give enough time-outs, too many time-outs, serve enough organic food; should I force my kids to eat quinoa even though I can barely pronounce it and mostly hate people who love it…” Your writing is so sane and grounded and honest–strangely rare in this world of being a mom…

    | July 29, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

  7. erin@mommyonthespot said,

    Oh, yes, the indoor play area makes me feel like I won the Best Mother of All Time Ever! award. And then I look at them as they look in digust at the quinoa I lovingly prepared for them and start banging their forks on the table yelling for mac and cheese or even worse, chocolate chip pancakes, and I think, “I have GOT to be doing something wrong here.”

    Great minds must think alike, right?

    | July 30, 2011 @ 2:21 am

  8. No Ordinary Momma said,

    I witnessed a child wig-out today at the farmer’s market while his mom selected organic veggies for him….hey mom, “less organic, more parenting!”
    No Ordinary Momma´s last blog post ..Foto Friday

    | July 31, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

  9. the muskrat said,

    One of my best friends from high school owns a couple of these facilities. Now I know why she’s so happy and self-assured. Bitch.

    | August 1, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  10. Kelly said,

    It seems that there is always some big bully at these playgrounds. The last time that we went to one, Mea was four, it was a play area in a mall. There was clearly an age limit and a height limit set, and it’s posted before you walk in. Their were some big kids who’s parents had left them there and were shopping in the mall. They were 8 or 9. Totally mowing over the little kids.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Mea Helps, Plays and Cooks…

    | August 1, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

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