I Think Your Kid Just Ate A Booger….

As a transplanted New Englander, I’ve grown accustomed to the long and unpredictable winters of the Northeast.  Less than a month ago, I was still hiking clear trails in New Hampshire and Maine.  Now we’re stuck under eight million feet of snow with more to come and that’s just how it goes here.

I’m also a mom to very active three-year-old and as I’m sure anyone with small children will agree, long hours spent in the confines of home, (no matter the number of toys or the extent of parental creative juices), have the same effect on a toddler as trapping a wild animal in a shoebox for an extended period of time and then unleashing it in a room full of shiny breakables.

Eventually, your child becomes a shrieking, irrational, hurricane of emotional highs and lows ripping throughout your home and you begin to wonder if you should call an exorcist, or if your kid is just going crazy and taking you with him.

Fortunately, when the winter woes begin to rear their ugly head, we have amusement options. While I can’t speak for other parts of the country, in my area, indoor play spaces have begun to pop up in a number of communities in close proximity to our home. They are often warehouses or defunct department stores that have been converted into giant playgrounds complete with all the necessary equipment and artificial sunshine necessary to keep a kid engaged for hours.

They have large wooden structures designed in the shape of pirate ships or forts with slides and swings and plenty of opportunities to climb.  Some spaces are devoted to all things inflatable and are full of every sized bouncy house on the market.  Others are a giant maze of tubes and nets and mini-obstacle courses guaranteed to burn off any pent up energy.

I consider these places a gift from the heavens.  Not just because of the opportunity they afford my little one to stretch his legs and play until he just can’t play any more….but because they are a parental melting pot where various parenting styles and all walks of life collide and never fail to create a phenomenal opportunity to people watch.

1.  The Basic White Girl Mom’s:

I had never heard the term “Basic White Girl” until very recently when I read an article online called, “20 Signs You’re a Basic White Girl” and I had to concede that I met most of the criteria a good portion of the time.

√ – Starbuck’s Venti Non-Fat Skinny Vanilla Latte (or something similar, but of course purchased at Starbuck’s)

√ – Infinity Scarf

√ – Some combination of a tank-top/button-down/cardigan/cable sweater/tunic/sweater dress

√ – Skinny Jeans

√ – Riding Boots or Uggs or Ballet Flats….unless it’s raining/snowing and then it’s Hunter Wellies or Bean Boots.

√ – Longchamp Tote

Some ladies in the group do it up much better than others though and I’m not one of them.  While I do admit to owning a good portion of the wardrobe, I often fall short on the makeup and accessories part of the total package.

More often than I care to admit, I’m wearing socks that don’t match and I have only applied mascara to one eye….because apparently, somewhere deep in my subconscious, I have decided that the “Clockwork Orange” look is a good one for me.

Also, I tend to fly solo and these mom’s almost always arrive in packs or join one as soon as they arrive. While their children play, they hover close by, discussing various Pinterest projects, PTA drama, their husbands, their friends husbands, outlet shopping and depending on the season….weekends on the Cape, leaf peeping in Vermont or skiing in New Hampshire.

Lastly, I don’t know for sure, but I suspect, like me, they all drive some kind of SUV or Volvo…

Ugh, I’m so basic.

How-To-Catch-A-White-Girl-Funny-Joke-Trap

2.  The United Nations – Nanny Division

Apparently, indoor play spaces have become the traveling World Headquarters for Au Pairs. They too have a pack-like mentality. They release their charges immediately upon entering and then make their way over to the France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Dominican or Portuguese side of the room and commence what is either friendly chatter, or a full scale Nanny domination plan….if I spoke any of these languages I would be better equipped to eavesdrop and report out on their conversations….so, sorry, that’s all I’ve got.

3.  Mr. and Mrs. High Cholesterol and their children, Coronary and Diabetes

Many of the play spaces we visit offer a wide variety of food options from light snacks to a full menu of amusement park fare….pizza, hot dogs, fries and onion rings, fried chicken fingers, nacho’s with mounds of thick faux cheese, candy and soda.

We aren’t generally connoisseurs of this type of cuisine, but we aren’t the type of parents who strictly withhold it either. Extremists are never good.

My mother was the type to force feed a poached egg down my throat most mornings, followed by a melty-like alfalfa pill, (the memory of which still makes me gag nearly thirty years later).  Mealtimes where almost always traumatic battles of will.  No matter how much I cried and begged, I was not allowed to leave the dinner table until every last stinky brussels sprout was choked down.

On the rare occasions I thought I might have won the battle by being sent directly from the dinner table to bed, it wasn’t unusual to find those same brussels sprouts, cold and withered, sitting on my breakfast plate the next morning nestled beside a lump of plain oatmeal….It’s not a parenting practice I’ve chosen to adopt, but I do believe in the importance of establishing a healthy balance and moderation.

It’s no secret that America takes the cake as the most obese nation in the world and it’s not hard to figure out how we won that pie-eating contest. Fast food and convenience, no matter the nutritional sacrifice, have led the charge for years.

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Maybe, back in the day, we weren’t fully aware of the potential long term risks associated with a diet consisting primarily of drive thru food and whatever else could be scarfed from a plastic bag or box…. but these days, it’s a fairly long and established fact that proper diet and exercise are important for long term health….especially in children.

So….I find it unfortunate and irresponsible when I see an overweight parent waddle up to the food counter and proceed to order every available option that is served dripping in grease or deep friend in a vat of it.  Then, when the heaping plates of heart attack arrive, bellowing across the room, “Foods here!”

Um, here’s a thought….how about putting down that handful of chili-cheese smothered french fries, peeling your butt off that seat and walking the length of the room to summon your child?  Considering you had the stamina to make your way to the food counter, I’m guessing one more surge of activity before digging in, probably isn’t going to kill you.

Furthermore, your child appears to be on the verge of some sort of cardiac event and that gigantic cup of soda probably isn’t doing him any favors.

Before you start to think I’m an insensitive jerk and prepare to lodge the argument that maybe these people have a glandular problem or some other medical malady, I’m happy to concede that maybe they do.  However, I’ve never heard a doctor suggest that a treatment plan for tackling obesity should include consuming 5,000 horrible calories in one sitting.

4.  Is that Organic?

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the parents whose children have never tasted anything that has high fructose corn syrup listed in the ingredients.  Their kids are named Summer Rain or Xander Moonbeam, their clothing is made of organic cotton or hemp and at lunch time, they pull out spotty, brown banana’s and kale chips to be eaten with tofu and sprouts from reusable burlap sacks they probably spun themselves.

I get it….sort of.  I made 100% of my son’s baby food from organic fruits, vegetables and meats I purchased at Farmer’s Markets or Whole Foods and we try to practice “clean eating” as often as possible, but I also think it’s OK to allow a little junk food and indulge a bit here and there.

When your kid is eyeing the plate of nacho’s and pepperoni pizza with extra cheese at the next table like he might just consider homicide for a small taste, you have already lost the battle.

Hippie-Mom-When-85-ppi1 5.  The Momtrepreneur

I understand how difficult it is for a working mom to successfully balance family and career responsibilities. I am one of these moms.

For a lot of women, contributing financially is essential to the family budget, especially in this economy.  On the flip side, many families can’t afford the cost of childcare and the villages of grandparents willing to do the work have all but disappeared to Florida.

A lot of women I know have turned to establishing small home based businesses as a solution. The really creative, crafty mom’s have e-shops on ETSY. The super fit moms sell the secrets of the 21 Day Fix, and others are Pampered Chef or Silpada Jewelry consultants.

At one of the play places my son and I frequent there is always the same woman selling Mary Kay cosmetics. She has two young boys she dresses in pink t-shirts that say, “Real Men Wear Pink” and while they are cute and creative billboards, they are also heathens.

While their mother is busy recruiting the mom’s who look like parenthood just ran them over with a Mack truck in a puddle of baby food and vomit, (which, by the way, I think is a brilliant business tactic), her son’s are busy wreaking havoc.

A few times, I’ve heard parents interrupt her makeover sessions to advise that her children appear to be hell bent on enacting a gang initiation on unwilling small children.

She huff’s, as if it’s so inappropriate to be interrupting her workday, pretends to regulate and then promptly returns to her customers while her boys take off in the opposite direction in search of new victims….like the kids with the non-English speaking nannies.

6.  Since When Did I Become a Daycare Provider?

I don’t consider myself a “Helicopter Parent,” but I do think it’s my responsibility to supervise my child as he plays….especially in public where other children are also all learning how to engage with one another and solve conflict.  While I don’t think it’s necessary for me to jump in and immediately control those moments, I do think it’s important to be available to interject before someone get’s bitten or punched.

So there is nothing more irritating than a parent who unleashes their child upon arrival and then settles in with a book or some electronic device and expects other parents to track them down when their kid poops on the floor, begs strangers for hydration, or starts undressing in the bouncy house.

Immediately, the supervising parents in the vicinity flash a “NOT IT!” expression and attempt to redirect their own children to another part of the facility.  No one wants to have to assume responsibility for a stranger’s child….or for interrupting the parent hiding behind a tabloid magazine to report that their kid is now chewing gum she found under a table.

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It’s going to be a long, but entertaining winter….

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