As parents, we make countless sacrifices. We give up sleep. We watch the size of our bank accounts fizzle away like a balloon with a slow leak. And privacy? Forget about it. Peeing with the door shut and no one screaming Moooo-mmmmyyyyy is a major victory.
With all the sacrifices we’re making and all the hassles we’re putting up with, it’s no wonder that we often ease the sting of these burdens with a healthy dose of complaining. But hidden in the mountain of complaints about all the sacrifices we make, there are little gems of awesomeness — except that, like a large cubic zirconia ring, those gems are sometimes so gaudy and embarrassing that we don’t admit they are there. We tuck those guilty pleasures away, hiding our joy, and disavowing any association lest our fellow parents — or even worse, non-parents — think that we’ve completely lost our marbles.
Here are just a few those gems, the things parents secretly love but are too embarrassed to admit:
Two words: Sliding Doors. That alone is enough to make a minivan aficionado out of the staunchest opponent. But if that weren’t enough, the fact that they are bigger than most New York City living rooms means that if you put your kids in the backseat and turn the music up really loud, you might not even hear their fighting. Sure, the minivan is a clichéd symbol of suburban parental apathy and the opposite of “cool,” but after you’ve wiped a kid’s nose with your sleeve, all semblance of “cool” goes out the window.
2. Chain restaurants.
Let’s face it, eating at a restaurant with young kids isn’t really eating at all; it’s more like shoveling food into your mouth while your spouse reprimands the toddler for climbing under the table and you have to sprint out of the restaurant because the baby had a massive diaper blowout. Dining out with kids isn’t for the weak, that’s for sure. Which is why parents love chain restaurants so much. Sure, we mock them for their steep prices and mediocre food, but secretly we love them. Where else can you get fried appetizers, colorable menus and bottomless fries in less time than it takes for the threenager to throw a tantrum because there isn’t a purple crayon.
3. Gravity falls.
Unlike most kids’ shows which feature the stereotypical nagging mom and hapless dad along with a bunch of whiny kids, Gravity Falls is unique. It’s fresh. It’s FUNNY. Kids laugh out loud at the antics of Mabel and Dipper while their parents suppress their own giggles, since we all know that parental approval is the kiss of death.
4. Chaperoning field trips.
I chaperoned my son’s third grade class field trip a few weeks ago and although the long and hot bus ride with no a/c was a special kind of hell, all in all, the day was pretty great. Not necessarily because I spent the day with my son (I mean, I see him all the time; I already know he’s pretty cool), but because of the other kids. They asked me questions. They followed me around. And they listened when I talked. It was magical.
I used to be one of those pretentious urbanites who mocked the suburbs saying that there was no way, I’d ever live in the suburbs – until we had a kid, that is, and then I couldn’t get out of the city fast enough. In the suburbs, we have a decent-sized backyard where my sons play baseball. They can walk to their friends’ houses, unsupervised. And we have easy access to chain restaurants and plenty of parking for our minivan.
6. Goldfish crackers.
They might be a nightmare to clean out of car seats, but goldfish crackers have that savory crunch that hits the spot when you’re looking to drown your sorrows during naptime. And the new graham cracker flavor sweetens you mood when a morning filled with incessant whining and tantrums make you question your life choices.
7. Amusement parks.
Sure, there are long lines and lots of people, but in a slice-of-life kind of way. There is, after all, a reason why Disneyland’s called the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
So yep, we make lots of sacrifices. We put up with lot of crap that we not only dislike, but downright, hate just because our children love it (Caillou, I’m looking at you). And in order to maintain some semblance of individuality and street cred so we don’t fall into a pit of mediocrity, we pretend that we dislike certain things that really aren’t so bad. Heck, we might even kind of like them, we might even love them.
And you know what? I’m old, tired, and too lazy to pretend anymore. Cool or not, you can find me in the suburbs driving around in my minivan eating handfuls goldfish crackers on my way home from Red Lobster so that I can take a nap after watching Gravity Falls.More On