This holiday weekend marks the beginning of the summer season. Everyone agrees that summer is fun, right? Of course, when you have a toddler, summer isn’t quite the same as it used to be.
Going to the pool is fraught with danger. Visiting a beach is a logistical nightmare. And you find yourself filling your summer with all manner of activities no self-respecting single, childless person would ever be caught dead participating in.
But life is full of compromises, and as a parent, making sacrifices is just part of the job description. So in advance of the weekend, and maybe to make yourself feel better about whatever you have planned, here’s a list a things I’ll be doing, almost none of which would happen if God were just.
- Parades: Parades are just about the stupidest thing on earth. It’s like standing around Times Square and watching strangers walk around, except they’re walking around in formation and a bunch of them are playing trombones. But kids love parades, or at least wives pretend they do so that the actual people who love parades, the aforementioned wives, get to go to them. Best case scenario at a parade is one of the Shriners losing control of his little car and plowing into the tween that tosses the baton. But the more likely scenario is spending thirty dollars on a bunch of plastic horns and a balloon with Spider-man’s face on it.
- Fireworks: Fireworks are just about the stupidest thing on earth. It’s like standing around Times Square and staring at all the screens, except you’re not from Japan and the screens don’t actually show anything interesting. Seriously, when are we going to reach the next stage of firework technology? Everytime everyone gets excited about a fireworks show I expect to see the lights coalesce into Voltron characters and attack the moon. But no, they can’t even spell fucking words with those things. What can they do? Scare the shit out of my kid with loud noises and blinding explosions. (“I told you he was too young for this! Yeah, I WILL sleep on the couch, if you really mean ‘pass out on the floor’.”) The one saving grace? Fireworks start late. So if my son’s not asleep by the time it’s that dark then I’ve probably already checked into a motel and it’s my wife’s problem.
- Cookouts: I’m not gonna front, cookouts are a lot of fun. You’re outside, you’re with friends, you’re drinking and eating hot dogs and hamburgers. America! But when you have kids, cookouts change from spectator sport to Thunderdome. You can’t get away with sitting on the deck, putting your legs up and tipping back a few cold ones, not when your kid is running around like the Tasmanian Devil, bumping into people, falling on his face, getting precariously close to the pool, yanking the cat’s tail, trying to flick the starter button on the grill, etc. When you bring your kid along (i.e., the kennel was full and you had no choice), a cookout stops being relaxing and fun and starts being a microcosm of life as a parent. Never a moment’s rest, and there’s an excellent chance someone is going to get stabbed with a grilling fork.
- The Beach: See the above, but replace pool with ocean, cat with jellyfish, “stabbed with a grilling fork” with melanoma.
- The Movies: You can take a toddler to the movies, sure. But when you do it’s like you’re the cop that just got thrust into Gen Pop. Everyone has a grudge and there’s a good chance you’re gonna get hurt. But I am seeing the goddamn Avengers this weekend if I have to drop my kid in front of a fire station to do it. My grandfather didn’t fight in the war for nothing.
So yeah, like everything else, having kids makes Memorial Day a bit harder, but it is still possible for parents to have fun this weekend. Just don’t let your kids bring you down, and make sure they’re in bed early enough for you to get drunk without feeling guilty about it.
Happy Memorial Day!