You’ve officially joined the club of parenting when you find your backseat covered in Cheerios.
I swore to myself it would never be happen. A few years ago, I remember looking in the backseat of a friend’s car – a very nice, upscale car – and noticing the backseat was a sea of baby toys, blankets, crumbs and Cheerios. Disgusting, I thought, why don’t they clean that shit up. Why? Because every time they clean it up, someone sits back there snug in their carseat throwing Cheerios to pass the time.
What you don’t know is that this club of parenting is only for the cool kids. I know, you think you’re cool because you have a social life, you washed your hair this morning, you can go to a public restroom without shouting GET AWAY FROM THAT TOILET SEAT.
Cool is driving around in a minivan and feeling a strange sense of connection when your friend posts a picture of their new minivan on Facebook. You’re gonna love it! Cool is standing outside in the dark, 38 degrees, at a parade (let it be told that I HATE PARADES),screaming when Curious George walks by, picking up candy canes off the ground, freezing your ass off all because you are waiting to see Santa at the end of the parade. He’s not even real! And even though one day I know my children will tell me – repeatedly – how uncool I am, I’ll know otherwise. Because you cannot survive this parenting thing without the belief that: I am absolutely bursting with cool.
The other day we were at the library. The kids section has a wonderful play area filled with letter magnets, toys and puppets. We go there because (a) it’s free, (b) there are other children Max can interact with, and (c) I don’t have to clean up after him. Another couple was there with a child around Max’s age. The dad was lying on the ground behind a wooden puppet theater putting on a puppet show while the child watched, mesmerized. I walked by this scene, while toting my own child away from his latest obsession – the drinking fountain – and thought to myself: we used to be cool.
Remember that? We used to go out. We used to have a social life. We used to have adult conversations. We used to have days that weren’t centered around trying to keep the child as busy as possible so they will take their afternoon nap. Now, we lay on the library floor putting on puppet shows talking in funny animal voices.
Friday night, Chris and I made a date to go to The Great Indoors. I waited for this all week. If this is marriage at year 6, can you imagine year 20? Let’s go to the Chik-Fil-A for a nice sit-down dinner. I shudder. Anyhow, we were looking for things for our new house. An organizational system for our laundry room. It gets better. After this, I wanted to go to the Home Depot. Friday night.
I walk in and immediately tell Chris that I HAVE to have the inflatable Santa sitting in a helicopter with an actual rotating blade. I just feel compelled. We don’t have any Christmas yard art and I HAVE to beat our neighbor who has his front yard decorated with bizarre Christmas shit. My favorite was the year he tried to dye the snow red. Turns out red snow quickly fades. And that’s how you have a front yard full of pink snow. When Chris reads the 90 dollar price tag, he says I can’t have it. I almost tantrummed but then figured there was a 99 percent chance that another Waterstraat would tantrum in the store within the next 30 minutes so why steal his thunder.
We looked at some paint. Ceiling tiles. Cabinets. Then Chris told me we had to find a new toilet seat. Because mine was worn out. Think about that what you wish. Next we looked at lighting. And then Chris said he wanted to find a toolbelt.
And zip your trap about any Schneider comments.
So Schneider and I headed over to the aisle with the toolbelts. Have you been? It’s more than you think. At least two dozen options.
It’s Friday night, we’re at the Home Depot looking at toolbelts.
And it was more than just us. Quite a few couples with small children pushing around the mobile child prison cell – the cart, do not under any circumstances take the child out of the cart – looking at … tools. Screws. Hardware.
How and when did this happen?
Chris tries on a few toolbelts. Yes, tries on a few, and then settles on the cheapest one. Goes to put it in the cart with Max who throws it right back out. As if to say: you guys used to be cool. Fuck this Scheider tool belt fashion show (and how awesome would it be if he actually said that?). By the way, we have just reached the point as parents when we realize that we need to install a filter – ON OUR MOUTHS! As my brother once told me, there is nothing funny about a 2 year old saying “crap” when they drop their cookie!
Chris looks around for a few other things while I take the opportunity to update my Facebook. One can never have enough displays of shameless narcissism and what better place to display it than on Facebook. I tell the world I’m at Home Depot. But what I failed to mention is that I also looked fabulous!
The responses come in. I find out – I’m not alone. Thank god for Facebook, it makes me feel…..loved in this lonely world. What I learn is that other married couples also go to Home Depot on a Friday night. Makes me think that if you’re married and you haven’t been to a Home Depot – you might just have a marital problem. Maybe this is love or just real life. It’s functional, it is not sexy and at times it involves hardware.
A friend with a newborn asks if there are crying children at the Home Depot because if not – it sounds like a glorious place. Crying children? None, unless you count mine. Who attempted to climb a bamboo flooring display and fell off. I would have saved him but was too busy looking at backyard design books. Another reason to nominate me – Parent of the Year, folks.
Right on cue, laying somewhere near the bamboo flooring display, Max has a meltdown. Full-blown tears, wailing. And let me tell you – the Home Depot echoes. There’s nothing quite like having an exploding child in a store. It completes the awesome circle of parenting experience. Right up there next to blowouts when you forgot the diaper bag. There’s something that should be absolutely embarrassing about this moment, forcing you to abandon a cart full of items to exit the store immediately to save the rest of the world from your child. Because before you had kids, that’s what you wished those parents would do. But then you realize you are officially in the club when you pick up the child and go wait in line for the register. Why? Because you’re in the club. And on your card it says: if you don’t like my crying child, I don’t give a shit!
(oops, I mean crap. Oops….WHERE IS MY FILTER!?)
Why? Because at some point in life, no matter which path you have chosen – to have dogs, cats, plants, friends – whatever – at some point YOU were that crying child. You embarrassed your parents. You had a meltdown. You were the loudest, most obnoxious thing around. You were THAT child. And what I’ve learned in parenting is that there is a good chance that in any given outing your child will become THAT child.
I’ve had to remind myself of this a lot. I spend every day with Max. We go out into the world. We go to the post office and if I want to do anything like – say, take out a credit card, sign for something – I have to put him down. And in doing so, I assure myself that he will remove a half dozen cards from the card display, run around the post office until the polite lady at the counter says: he has a card.
I had no idea.
It would be much easier to stay at home. It would be a lot less embarrassing. I would spend a lot less time picking up random shit off of store floors (my child once disassembled an entire display of Via and all the barista could say was: go ahead and keep what he’s holding).
But as you can see – membership into the club often has benefits.
Who couldn’t use some free Via?
(which incidentally goes great with Cheerios)
(PS: as you can see, I’m going to try to redesign the blog!)