Some days parenting feels like nothing more than a series of bare-knuckle bouts in the gladiator pit of life. Some days it feels as if all you do is pick up the crumpled, inside-out socks of Satan’s spawn. Somehow we manage. We wade through the muck putting out fires. We fan the embers that need flaming, we keep the home fires burning long enough to cook dinner, and we do our best to avoid the nine circles of parenting hell.
Not familiar with the 9 Circles of Parenting Hell? Let me fill you in.
Ring One: Kid Themed Restaurants
I’m not talking the Golden Arches or Burger King. I’m talking about high-end, themed restaurants specifically aimed at children. The kind of restaurants that have servers dressed as safari guides and children swinging from the chandeliers. The kind of place that waters down its drinks and charges extra for tap water. There’s not enough booze behind the cleverly designed bar to make up for the volume, the mediocre food, the half-hearted service and the over inflated prices. You’re shooed out hungry, headache-y and poorer.
Ring Two: Auditoriums, Cafeterias and Recital Halls
It’s impossible for all of our children’s tap, Chopstick piano performances and magic acts to be last in a never-ending lineup of tap dances, Chopstick piano performances and magic acts. It just seems that way. Kids in little ruffle covered bloomers or paper top hats are cute, but let’s be honest: we’re only interested in our own kid entering stage right before we go back to checking our phones. The only exception? The cello prodigy who makes us feel like terrible parents for not putting our kids in music lessons at 18 months.
Ring Three: Indoor Play Areas and Ball Pits
The volume level! The hysteria! The niggling fear that your child might actually dissolve in a pit of plastic balls, never to be seen again. From the mom of the crawling baby who shoots evil eyes at every other kid to the echoing screams of fear coming from the top of the slide to the streptococci coming off those plastic balls in waves. What’s not to love?
Ring Four: Toddler Music Classes
Another expensive way to make mothers feel like a.) idiots for their enthusiastic rendition of The Wheels on the Bus or b.) guilty for their lack of enthusiasm during the 648th rendition of The Wheels on the Bus. Almost exclusively for first children because having to feign enthusiasm while singing about the wipers on the bus going swish swish swish for the second kid is like shoving bamboo shoots under your nails.
Ring Five: Saturday Mornings
Saturdays are supposed to be relaxing, lazing around with a cup of coffee and the newspaper while your children happily play with the $10,000 dollars worth of toys that litter your home. In reality, Saturday mornings are a mad dash to get the children up, fed, dressed and ready to go to lacrosse/ballet/swimming/soccer/all of the above. When they are young they’re up before the sun. When they’re older, you can’t get them up before noon. The time in between is spent arguing about which parent is taking which kid where. Fun stuff.
Ring Six: ‘Real’ Museums
We feel virtuous when we take children to a museum. It’s educational! It’s informative! Look at us, we are promoting appreciation of culture and art, book-ended by overpriced cookies and juice in the very posh café! In reality most of the time is spent trying to stop the kids sliding down the railings, running up and down stairs, smearing their chocolate chip stained fingers across the statues or playing ‘spot the penis’ among the antiquities.
Ring Seven: Air travel
If you plan a flight for a nap time, you can guarantee the flight will be delayed. There are the hissed ‘don’t kick the seat in front of you!’ instructions, the fear of losing them in the airport, the cold sweat of thinking you forgot the iPad, and the sheer amount of shit you have to travel with. Very few things make a new parent or even some veteran ones sweat like the idea of travel with kids.
Ring Eight: The Witching Hours
Show me a mother who says her favorite time of day is between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. and I’ll show you someone who is a.) high b.) deluded c.) screwing with you for an undetermined reason of d.) all of the above. The witching hours. When my kids were infants, it was the nonstop nursing and fussing. When they were toddlers it was the struggle to get an over tired kid fed, bathed and in bed. Now that they are older, it’s homework, chores, last-minute instructions about the diorama that’s due tomorrow (diorama? What diorama???), all played out during a mad rush to feed everyone before nuclear meltdown occurs.
Ring Nine: Disney World
Nothing represents hell on Earth more than places like Disney World. It’s not the cost. It’s not the crowds or the lines or the overpriced junk food. It’s not the way those places sucker you into paying huge sums of money for mouse ears or a wand from Olivander’s. The true hell of Disney is the pressure to have THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. It’s a special kind of hell that makes you think you’re having fun when you want to poke your eyes out with a Mickey Mouse shaped stick while sipping a $20 mug of Butter-beer.
If Dante had children his nine circles of hell would be have been filled with bouncy castles and flight delays as opposed to heretics, blasphemers and sodomites.
Spending time in any of the 9 circles of parenting hell has surely secured me a more traditional hell. Blaspheme? Me? No, I didn’t call your husband a fornicating sodomite when he got all Tiger Dad in my toddler’s face for taking a turn in the cozy coupe. You must be mistaken. I was over there, where my son was last seen sinking into a sea of balls singing about the wipers on the bus. I swear.