Once you become a parent, certain experiences become amplified, which is both good and bad. On the good side, simple things like a trip to the zoo or spotting a digger on the street become completely magical experiences. On the bad side, things like waiting rooms, checkout queues and long car trips become a special kind of hell.
Here are 11 things that are particularly hellish once you have kids.
1. Indoor play centres
On a rainy Saturday morning indoor play centres seem like the answer to all your problems. Then you get in there and the sheer volume of noise, not to mention the smell of fetid feet and the violent colour scheme beneath fluoro lights, soon have you so riled up you want to punch someone. It’s no wonder fights are wont to break out in these hell centres of screaming brats; the physical environment seems to be specifically designed to aggravate.
Add in, illegally bad coffee, overpriced hot chips plus other parents and you’ve pretty much got the perfect storm.
2. Doctor’s waiting rooms
I will do anything to avoid taking my kids to the doctor. We don’t go unless someone is bleeding profusely from the head or has a confirmed broken limb. Seriously, I will do anything to avoid sitting there while my kid asks me over and over when it will be our turn.
The answer to “when will it be our turn?” is: “Not until you’ve sat there for at least 30 minutes reading vintage Women’s Weeklies with Diana on the cover.” It doesn’t even matter if you arrived 10 minutes late to offset the waiting, it will always be at least 30 minutes to an hour before the doctor will see you.
I know people’s health is unpredictable, but I’ve never understood why doctor’s surgeries cannot ever run on time.
3. Indoor swim centres
Indoor swim centres are like the indoor play centre: on a rainy day, it seems like a good idea. Then you get in there and one million other parents also had the same bright idea. The baby pool is wee-wee warm, the moist air is thick as pea soup, the screaming of children echoes hellishly, the change rooms are soggy and the big waterslide is closed today for no apparent reason.
Then there’s the fact that, for water safety reasons, you have to actually get in the wee-wee swamp WITH your toddler and be on constant vigilant alert for his “poo face.”
4. School uniform shop
For me, going to the school uniform shop is like going to the doctor: I will do anything to avoid it. If my kids are wearing knickerbockers, I will resist going in to the uniform shop until the knickerbockers actually disintegrate in the wash.
Oh, the painfully slow service, the parent-helper who can’t find anything, the constantly “out of stock” items, the “sorry we don’t take (insert whatever you’re trying to pay with here).”
Then there’s the idiosyncratic and difficult to remember opening times. Before school on Tuesdays and after school on Fridays or is it the other way around?
Medicare is a special kind of hell because everybody is all ‘sh-sh-sh’ like a library and they are so intolerant of bored toddlers. The number system is random, like why did B32 come before A15? And once you get to the front of the queue, oh suddenly it’s Jan’s tea break. Shutters down.
If you want my kid to be quiet and behave HAVE BETTER SERVICE!!!
See above. Only add in, no chairs, a ticketing process that changes every time so that you have to read a screen of instructions while your kid hangs off your leg whining and then: “Sorry you don’t have the right forms of ID to process that today,” once you get to the front of the queue.
7. Going to the movies
Once you have kids, you will not see a real, live talking person on a movie screen for about 10 years. What you will see, is a lot of cartoons and talking animals plus the bathrooms about three times during the movie.
I hate cartoons. I don’t care if it’s Pixar or Disney or whatever. When I go to the movies I want to see real people talking, not computer animations that creepily approximate human emotions because they stuck some dots on an actor’s face and fed the coordinates into a computer.
In my 18 years as a parent I have only seen four or five animations that were worth leaving the house for. “Family-friendly” is just another way of saying, “Worthy predictable storylines with an annoying song at the end.”
8. Air travel, domestic and international
When you don’t have kids, getting on a plane is just a mild annoyance to get you from A to B. Once you add kids into the mix, getting on planes is a special kind of hell.
From the waiting to get on to the waiting to get off, everything in between is a toddler’s idea of I HATE THIS: confined spaces, having to sit still and keep your hands and feet to yourself, not being able to tweak that guy’s hair in front, perfectly timed nappy explosions and “whaddya mean I’m not allowed to scream at the top of my lungs in here?”
Then there’s the fact that as soon as you board, everybody on the plane HATES YOU. And you haven’t even done anything yet.
9. Theme parks
Theme parks are promoted as the perfect kid-friendly activity but in reality they are anything but. Queues upon queues upon queues, bad fried food, dumb “no running” rules, weak overpriced coffee, festy toilets, lockers you have to fight for and did I mention the bad fried food?
10. The checkout at Target
I don’t know if Target hates parents, but with their modern checkout configuration, they have designed the perfect obstacle course from hell for parents. There’s the rows upon rows of sugar at toddler-height that you have to shuffle past at a snail’s pace because everyone is channeled into the same obstacle course, plus the rows and rows of dumb landfill crap that toddlers will want you to buy as soon as they see it and then the final insult: one person serving out of five counters while the girl behind the customer service desk pretends to be busy doing invisible “too busy to serve you things” behind her counter. And the counter clearly has a cash register, so in theory she could be serving you.
Then finally, after being funnelled through this corridor of parenting hell …
11. A trip to the supermarket
Once you have a baby, toddler, preschooler or even a primary school-aged kid, a simple trip to the supermarket routinely has you in a cold sweat. From kids trying to “ride” the trolley, to not being able to find those tube ice blocks (where do they put them, again? In desserts or juices, it’s never the same aisle) to the stupid cheap crap toy aisle where you will be nagged into submission for an imitation Spiderman figurine, a trip to the supermarket breaks every parent’s spirit even on their best day.
The crowds, the queues and the deli counter that sometimes has numbers and sometimes doesn’t, it just depends on how we’re feeling today. All of it is amplified when you are dragging a whiney toddler like a ball and chain up and down the aisles.
Oh and then the checkout, where the Kinder Surprises and Chupachups are just lying in wait for you as the final challenge.