Any honest mama knows exactly what I mean by that title and probably has a laundry list of her own. It’s the battery operated toys or junk food that you purchased in a moment of weakness. It’s the movie you allowed your kid to watch once during a momentarily lapse of good judgement, sleep deprivation or utter exhaustion but they somehow memorized every single line, repeating them at will, all day, every day. It may have been rookie decisions made in err to avoid the judgmental eye of strangers while at the end of your rope of patience and tested one last time while in line to check out at Target. It’s the last ditch decision you make to keep your child from having a total melt down during a visit with your in-laws. It’s that one time you gave into your children’s begging and pleading to go to Chuckie Cheese, on the weekend, and realized within minutes of the high pitched shrills signaling children delighting in adolescent gluttony, the flashing, neon lights and upbeat monotony of pizza, soda pop glee, and the life-sized singing, dancing puppets that you were being serenaded upon your arrival to an Earthly purgatory. We’ve all done it. If you say you haven’t you’re lying or suffering from selective amnesia.
If you do manage to withstand all those pressures and have no Achilles heel of parenting, it’s the thing you’ve avoided like the plague. It’s Barney, everybody’s favorite purple dinosaur that makes you want to puke rainbows and glitter all over freshly laundered bedsheets. Maybe it’s Barbie, with her impossibly thin waste that no real life woman could ever possibly achieve, certainly not if she hopes to walk upright, and least of all after carrying a child or more to full term (Read: Dear Mothers: We’re Not Meant to Bounce Back). But then, one day, upon returning home from a visit to the grandparents’ house or a friend’s birthday party, your child struts into the house holding that thing like a trophy. And you’re left with a choice; be the bane of your child’s existence, and let me remind you that your child has all the time in the world to punish you for your decision, or choose to let it slide. Yes, you’re the parent, not your child’s friend, but it ends up living at your home. It’s your child’s new favorite toy, treasured treat or most revered pastime. It’s also that thing that threatens to drive you to the brink of insanity, pushes you to the verge of going completely wacko, nutso, falling off your rocker, losing your marbles, and ending up plain loopy! Here, let me give you a few more examples.
Let’s start with ketchup. Let’s start with ketchup because I’m certain that the ketchup phase, or shall we say phenomena, has left no plate in America untouched. I’m certain that nearly every parent can relate. Ketchup aka Catsup: the poor man’s salsa, Scandinavian picante and Toddler. Elixir. Of. Life! Ketchup: added to everything edible under the sun in copious and indiscriminate amounts. Bastardizing every single meal you’ve made since your kid left the tit. Added without reservation to all those carefully planned, healthful meals you made before you finally wised up and just started rolling hot dogs into a tortilla and tossing it into a leftover bread bag for lunch. Bravo to all you mamas who cared enough to plan all those perfectly balanced meals, compartmentalized with multicolored cupcake cups, crust carefully trimmed from each pb&j sandwich and cookie cut into cute, albeit wasteful, shapes, served with an ample side of fruit and veggies arranged into hearts, smiley faces, or to look just like her favorite Disney character. Indeed, that takes a lot of time and TLC. Then watch as your child empties the better part of an entire 14 ounce bottle of corn syrup-rich ketchup on top, nibbles on only a few small pieces and then vehemently pushes it aside, sending it toppling to the floor, as if in slow motion, for you to quickly retrieve, do your Norwex magic stain removal on the carpet, and rush off to prepare a backup meal of, say, macaroni and cheese yet again, and watch as they top it all off with, you guessed it, ketchup.
Here’s another example: unflushed poop. Yep. I said it. Dookie! And, no, I’m not talking about Green Day. Why do children do this? Why?! Unfortunately, I think we’ve all done that 180 when we open a stall door to find that some kid failed to flush. It never ceases to amaze me just how much goes in and then comes out of those tiny little bodies. For the life of me I do not understand! We have fully functioning plumbing systems in this country for Pete’s sake. There’s no rational explanation, believe me, I tried to come up with one. At first I was certain my daughter was autistic. She covered her ears and grimaced with each flush like I was submitting her to some cruel vicious act of torture. Then there was the time I recently discovered that my very potty-trained toddler had left the kids at the pool. This one really stung because I was so proud of her bathroom accomplishments. Once I was sure she was indeed trained, and I felt I was in the clear to not jinx myself, I would brag that she must have set a Guinness Book of World Record for youngest child ever to be successfully potty-trained. She was so early, in fact, that I couldn’t find undies in her miniature size. Not to turn anybody green though because my eldest took her sweet time. In any case, apparently she went down memory lane when she decided to take her old training toilet for a joy ride. The potty doubled as a stepping stool and was being used as such up until this incident. This child’s dump went unnoticed for 2 or 3 days, I fear say longer. You see, my little one was not like my eldest who still announces every single time she needs to relieve herself. No. She just handles her business. I did notice something in the house smelled off and I was on the hunt for Red October like a hound. It never occurred to me to lift the training toilet seat turned step stool until one day I sat down to relieve myself and caught a whiff of the aging toxic jalopy resting beside me. Lord help me I thought I had caught the scent of decaying death in my own home. Top grossest thing ever next to my eldest puking directly into my mouth that one time. Yep. That happened too.
All right, let’s get our heads out of the gutter. Can I get an amen when I express my ire for crayons? Yes. I know. This one probably won’t make me any friends. In fact, if you haven’t already decided I’m off my rocker, sharing that I put the beloved crayons into toy time out, indefinitely confining them to the basement domain, will most certainly be cause to reconsider your opinion of me. But, yes, it is true; I have removed crayons from all the common spaces our home. And if I spy one sneaking in from a birthday party favor bag or as a 4-pack of primary colors they got while out to eat with their dad over the weekend, I immediately confiscate them. No amount of begging and pleading has shaken me. Nope. Until somebody can help me understand why every child who has ever had a crayon thinks it’s a good idea to eat it? They smell like chloroform, drying paint, and aging Barbie dolls. Why would that seem tasty to a child? Granted, I know most children have very unrefined taste buds, and any progress they may have made was certainly negated by their overconsumption of ketchup, as previously mentioned, but I’m still at a loss. Plus, they always, and I mean always, use them to draw on walls. Like does Crayola include special instructions, in invisible child-legible-only-ink, that says, Directions: Use these to color all over the walls of your home like it’s your very own tabula rasa. Be creative. Have fun. So, yeah, I eighty-sixed those bad boys, too.
Last but not least, on my list of least favorite, ousted toys, are balloons. Yep. I’m a big fat party pooper, I’ll admit it, but I cannot deny my ire for these orbs of momentary happy. Let’s just start with the squeaks, like nails on a chalk board, that emerge from those things. And in spite of the fact that there is almost always more than one, because balloons prefer to travel in groups, you won’t have any trouble finding children fighting over the one blue balloon, or the big one, or the sparkly one, or not even any one in particular, because that’s what playing with balloons leads to. Kids fighting, Children crying. It just does. It always does. And before you know it the balloon pops, sometimes spontaneously even, but the burst balloon causes a previously utopian experience and perfectly contented, angelic child to begin to wail uncontrollably, as if possessed by the devil himself, ushering in the beginning of the end of party f.u.n.. Inevitably then there’s the distracted child who suddenly discovers their overpriced $12 minion balloon floating off into the clouds and, in turn, triggers fits of rage and tears and urgent demands to retrieve THAT particular balloon. No other will do. It’s not unlike the toddler who asks you to peel their banana then suddenly begins to weep because you broke it and insists that you put it back together again immediately, or else. The balloon later lands in the ocean or one of five ocean gyres, choking marine wildlife like the Albatross before graduating to it’s eternal existence. And if the balloon doesn’t land in an ocean, in remains in my home for what feels like forever or until it suddenly vanishes while the children are sleeping.
In sum, there is a litany of annoying things in the life of a parent, all in the eye of the beholder. All things are not created equal, nor are they decided on based on rhyme or reason. All quite irrational. They are simply the source of annoyance on any given day and thereafter. It could be the musical toy carefully selected and gifted with an unimaginative, mind-numbing jingle. Or it could be all those loose socks. Where do all their pairs go? Or, as the case was for my mother, hating anything that was round, be it Kix (the not always mother-approved cereal), peas, grapes and their dehydrated cousin, the raisin. All of which roll around on the floor until you discover them smashed beneath your bare foot, which, I’m sure we can all agree, is most certainly annoying.