Just Take my Money Already

When it comes to watching my kids experience pure joy, money is no object. Of course we do plenty of family things that cost nothing like ride bikes, read books and take nature walks in the park. But to those that say, “money cannot buy happiness” have obviously never seen a child riding a miniature pony. I find myself internally conflicted, since places like fairs, zoos, and carnivals can be sad, inhumane, and sometimes downright creepy. Fortunately, the portion of my children’s brain that would see a whale in a tank smaller than most celebrity’s penthouse pools as cruel has not been developed yet. So instead, they see a “big fishy” and immediately are giving me the pouty lips and requesting a giant balloon animal with a spout. I wish that my moral convictions were as strong as my desire to see my kids giddy with joy—until then, any place we can pet, ride, or feed the animals, seriously, just take my money already.

The creators and investors of places such as these are no fools-- they see a market that can easily exploit desperate parents that will stop at nothing to avoid very public tantrums. They know that they can absolutely charge $12 per person for a 3-minute train ride around the monkeys. And sadly, my bag of old tricks like “the train is not working today” is no longer a lie I can get away with, especially when there’s a loud speaker announcing train rides every 20 minutes.

We have yet to brave the wonder and overwhelming glee that is Disneyland. I simply cannot justify dipping into their college savings so I can show them pictures in the future and have conversations like:

Me: “Remember how much you loved riding Dumbo? Oh look at us in front of the castle!”

Them: “When did we go to Disneyland?”

Fortunately, we are very close to several toddler amusement parks, carousels, and trains of all shapes and sizes. Kids will lose their minds over anything plastic that they can ride.

There are also bounce houses or trampoline parks that charge more per hour than most criminal attorneys. It is tempting to be wary of any place you need to sign a liability waver for, however the upshot is that it does exhaust them into taking 3 hour naps. So I’m just going to be the mom that magically pulls helmets and mouth guards out of my Mary Poppin's bag.

I am also a huge fan of splash pads or play structures where I can sit off to the side and wave from a shaded bench while finishing my cold coffee from that morning. I call those places heaven.

Sure, the best things in life are free—but Thing 1 and Thing 2, just happen to have very expensive tastes.

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Small Miracles

Murphy’s Law of Parenthood states that when anything can go wrong, it will-- like when you run out of clean clothes and then go to open the dryer to find that your youngest thought this would be a fun place to store the wet play-doh. You will learn to appreciate the little miracles whenever and wherever they are presented to you by thanking God or the Tooth Fairy or whichever holy entity is responsible for nobody in my household contracting the stomach flu in over 6 months. Just in case your cup runneth over, and not in the good way, here is a list of small gifts you should remember to feel grateful for.

1). When you find shoes that all your kids can easily put on and take off themselves. Crocs are uglier than sin and look like two pieces of non-recycled plastic you know in your heart of hearts will one day be laid to rest in a landfill right next to your Keurig cups and organic pouches-- but they have given you back what will accumulate to years of your life.

2). When you get distracted in the grocery store and accidentally wander down the cookie aisle and somehow nobody notices and thus doesn’t start simultaneously tantruming while loading your cart full of junk food like an old episode of Super Market Sweep.

3). When both of your kids in the span of 3 days get stung by a bee and turns out nobody is allergic.

4). When you leave without a diaper bag or any of the $30,000 worth of crap it takes to simply exit your house while in the possession of your children and somehow nobody needs anything other than a song and a smile.

5). When you are out in a crowded space and your children instinctively reach out for each other.

Just the existence of grocery delivery services and free streaming episodes of Daniel Tiger are proof that small miracles are all around us. Sometimes you just have to wade through the boogers and laundry in order to spot them.

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The Parenthood Percentage

If you are like me the math portion of your brain got derailed by Shakespeare and so you married an engineer ensuring your children would obtain equal parts English major, equal parts mathematical genius which is destined to produce some well-rounded offspring. I have come up with a formula that I will coin the Parenthood Percentage. As you will quickly notice these numbers do not add up to 100%, which means my formula is flawed, just like my parenting. Those of you looking forward to becoming parents or are living to tell the tale can refer to these like you do your vitamin label, but substitute 100% vitamin C for 100% love and chaos.

20% stepping on toys with your bare feet and trying not to curse.

67% opening your mouth and hearing your parent’s words come out.

92% repeating these phrases: please stop, because I said so, I love you.

30% hearing them play happily and waiting for the inevitable scream.

36% worrying about the next strain of bird or goat flu.

44% using words like “blessed” and “grateful” that in your former life would make you gag and roll your eyes.

71% enduring other people’s “words of wisdom” that you don’t remember asking for.

1% sleeping, but 99% complaining about not sleeping.

82% looking for shoes, 18% putting them on.

27% finding the karmic hilarity in all your quirks and stubbornness reflected so perfectly in your tiny human clones.

100% grateful that this is now your life.

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