To leave the house with our kids or not to leave the house? That is the question we, as parents of infants and toddlers, face from time to time. Of course, we HAVE to leave the house with our children. Taking them out in public provides innumerable benefits, but going to the grocery store or visiting the doctor’s office for a check-up, let alone doing something (that’s supposed to be) fun like a trip to the beach or the library, can be an excursion filled with unwanted outcomes.
As a “glass half full” kind of guy, I always have optimistic expectations for outings with my 2-year-old son. But, oh, how those realities can come back to bite my illusions of grandeur in the bottom. Here’s a list of common activities us mommy and daddy types do with our little ones and how we hope things happen vs. how they actually go down.
1. Going to the park.
Expectation: Cole will be content with going on the swing and running around the play-set while I attempt to catch up on the progress of my ESPN fantasy baseball team.
Reality: Cole will get bored with the swing and play-set within two minutes, commandeer another child’s shovel and bucket without their permission in the sandbox (causing a major meltdown by both youngsters in the process), and get his fresh-cleaned clothes completely dirty.
2. Going to a truck show.
Expectation: Cole loves trucks! He’ll have the time of his life getting an up-close-and-personal look at fire engines, bulldozers, and helicopters.
Reality: Apparently Cole loves trucks … but DOESN’T love waiting in long lines on a scorching hot day and then being shepherded out of the cab of said vehicles after 60 seconds for the next child to have their turn in the driver’s seat. Touch-A-Truck? More like Touch-Off-A-Tantrum.
3. Going to the beach.
Expectation: Cole and I will easily wade into the chilly Pacific Ocean up to our shins then build a sand castle near our area on the beach.
Reality: Cole will make a mad dash for the open water the second I put him down causing Daddy to have a mild panic attack, then trample over everyone else’s gear on the way back to our towels.
4. Going to the grocery store.
Expectation: I’ll be able to place Cole in the seat part of the shopping cart as it was properly designed and pick up the items on my list in an efficient manner.
Reality: Cole will sit in the seat for less than 30 seconds. He’ll then proceed to make the shopping cart his personal jungle gym while nearly knocking over multiple food displays and pitching a fit if we don’t get him graham crackers.
5. Going to the doctor’s office.
Expectation: A healthy Cole will be seen for his 9 AM appointment after arriving at his pediatrician’s office at 8:50 AM.
Reality: Cole will be seen by the doctor at 9:40 AM after being coughed on by several sick kids in the waiting room and get a cold within days.
6. Going to the library.
Expectation: Cole and I will pick out some new books to read and check out after playing with blocks in the children’s section.
Reality: Cole will tear pages and rip out others while selecting books, then knock over other kids’ block structures without a care in the world.
7. Going to swim class.
Expectation: Cole will totally love being in the pool in a group setting because he loves the water!
Reality: I have to bribe Cole with chocolate to even put sunblock on. Then, once he gets in the water with Daddy, he splashes the other kids and spits water at them (all while laughing gleefully thinking it’s hilarious), while not listening to the teacher at all or really, ya know, learning how to swim.
8. Going on an airplane trip.
Expectation: Cole will be totally content with his brand new toys we bought especially for our journey in the sky, coloring books, age-appropriate pre-downloaded TV shows and movies, and calmly be seated until he tells me he has to go potty.
Reality: Cole will get antsy within the first five minutes of the four-hour-plus flight, have an accident, throw his crayons on the cabin floor never to be seen again due to the cramped space, get frustrated with the shows he loves at home but for some reason hates in the air, and Daddy will get dirty looks from the flight crew for having him in his carrier near the rear galley while trying to calm him down.
The moral of the story? Have an open mind whenever you take your child out and prepare for things to go differently than you plan. Embrace the curveballs your kids throw your way. Parenting is the ultimate reality show. Enjoy it!More On