I'm going to be brutally honest. You might just shudder and think I'm a jerk. But I'm willing to bet that there's an ounce of "Oh hell yeah!" deep in the center of your being nodding and doing a thumbs up.
I like my kids...but I'm not entirely crazy about other people's kids. And dealing with their parents? Can I get an "Oy" with a side of "Vey"?
So much to cover, so little time. I have anecdotes for my anecdotes after roughly thirteen years of straight up BS. I've decided to just list them.
The Play Date: The Queen Mother of all pains in the ass. From the moment little Damian blasts open your front door, blazing a trail to the toy stash, all the way to the bitter end where his clueless mom alerts him pensively that "We need to go in five...or ten minutes", you are in for the ride of your life. Every toy will be unearthed and strewn to the far reaches of your dwelling. I once found a smurf lodged atop a votive chandelier that hangs ten feet above our living room. They'll raid your refrigerator while mom stands by passively throwing the ball in your court by suggesting that it's your house and he should abide by your rules. In other words, apparently it's cool for people to rifle through her refrigerator and cabinets and hoard the juice boxes. And they'll bring siblings. Siblings that your kids will run from at the memory of being chased with their own Nerf sword. The darlings will hide in your room, hunt down that box of truffles your husband has been savoring and eat every fecking one, leaving a trail of wrappers Hansel & Gretel style. They will spill soda on a pile of Legos that you'll now have to de-stickify. They'll clog your toilet, they'll track mud in the house. They'll taunt the dog. They'll eat you out of house and home while mom brings a "snack" to share consisting of one cookie divvied up three ways. By the time it's all over and mom decides she's done letting you parent her spawn while she sips coffee and complains about the school board, you have a headache the size of a Buick, my friend and you head for the nearest bottle of Tequila for a quick shot and a life giving Ibuprofen before ordering pizza.
The Birthday Party: It's the bad office party of the parenting world. And hey, I know. We all gotta have 'em. They're unavoidable. We want our kids to have a fun birthday, I get it. I'll be throwing one next month. But let's be honest, we don't like going to these things, do we? They eat up the weekend, they can be expensive, since in this day and age of refusal to teach our children the concept of disappointment, we must invite the entire freaking class. They are sometimes over the top and held in human petrie dishes. You will spend time and money shopping for gifts for children you have never met while your child tantrums in aisle 7 of Toys r Us because he's not getting a Halo whateverthefuck too. You'll then spend an awkward three hours making forced small talk with other parents, promising each other that "Yeah! We should totally get the kids together for a play date!" (see above) You'll dine on pizza...again. And cake. And soda. All fantastic, easy, affordable, familiar choices that even your kid will be tired of. And you'll come home with a goody bag full of tiny plastic crap from the China Trading Company that will hit the trash faster than you can say Bounce U. I know my kid's kindergarten class moms probably hated me when I opted for the giant inflatable hammers over the bags. Those kids most likely went home and got their sugar rush on at the expense of their sibs and the family dog. I'm sorry. Bounce U!
The Class Party: Smaller version of the bad office party where, if you are one of the chosen few to gain éntránce over the class mom's besties, you will spend an hour standing around fussing over napkins and pretzel bowls, forming a police line up in the back of the room as the fun commences, feeling like Milton from Office Space as you jockey for the last square of cake, while enduring the "mom huddle kvetch" that's happening at the food table. Some of them will try to suck up to the teacher. Others will be setting up play dates. (see above) Still others will just patrol the room during craft time as if they're surveying the assembly line at Widgets n Things. You'll get through it though. It's nice to see your child having fun at a class party with their friends. And they love the go home early parent pick up option.
Sporting Events: We're fortunate to live in a town where the parents behave. But that's not always the case. Parents yelling at five year olds who aren't even theirs, fights with coaches and scuffles with other parents. Need I say more? Sad. You're seated in your specially patented collapsable $15 canvas chair, sucking on the dregs of this morning's coffee from your travel mug and cheering your child to victory in freezing rain. I've seen parents bring chairs with built in umbrellas and USB hookups that spend the entire game staring at their phones.
Back To School/Reading/Carnival/Ice Cream Social Night: Two words: Mad house. Also, when you're at a round table of other kids and their parents trying to read a book to your child on er hem...reading night...and there's a mom at the table carrying on a full blown conversation about the End Of Year Party favors being too "matchy matchy" and you look over at her kids - who aren't twins - poking their mama in the arm with one hand and a book in the other, because it's um...reading night and they're wearing matching Dr. Seuss shirts. That's when you say to yourself "Oh hell no" before taking your kid home to read him his own damn books. In private.
Do I have a bad attitude about parenting? Nope. I just calls 'em like I sees 'em. Dealing with other kids and their parents can be pretty baffling. It's time spent with people you most likely wouldn't hang with otherwise but for the fact that your child is fostering a little relationship here. And that's why we do it with a smile on our faces and a bite of the lower lip. Sometimes we're lucky and we end up having lunch with those parents even after our kids have outgrown each other.
So, if you just got on this ride, buckle up and hold on tight. Keep your arms and head inside the ride at all times. It might be scary, it's fraught with twists and turns. But you're on it, too late to get off. And you might enjoy it. Just remember, you'll probably be riding multiple times. And we're not responsible for items lost or stolen.