Some Days, I Could Just Cry

I hate the park. I hate being the only adult there under 40. I hate being asked what my rates are. I hate overhearing the conversations about Tastefully Simple and Mary Kay and Tupperware and Avon and Pampered Chef and being invited over to look at catalogs because there’s so much to buy that surely something will interest me.

I hate the long lines of minivans that are all shine and sparkle and not a one of them with a model year earlier than 2002. I hate the looks I get when I buckle the kids into my 1984 Volvo station wagon. “Wow, I didn’t know cars that old were safe for kids to ride in!”

I hate the questions. I hate the snide cutdowns that tell me that homeschooling is for freaks. “Oh, you homeschool? I couldn’t do that. Too disciplined.” If by disciplined you mean work I’m willing to do, gosh, yeah, you’re right. I hate the comments about them acting like children. “Oh, they’re not on Ritalin? But they’re so high-spirited! How do you manage?”

I hate the lines of Dora and Spongebob-clad kids, with their McDonalds lunches and no concept of tag or hide-and-seek. I hate that Rebecca gets cut down because she’s not wearing fucking Disney Princess gear. “You don’t match, so you can’t play with us.” Or worse, “You don’t match, so you have to be the bad guy.” I hate that having an imagination is a sin. “I’ll be Princess Becca, and this is my horse, Marcus,” is met with, “That’s not a real Disney Princess.”

I hate telling my kids that Halloween is off limits because our neighborhood isn’t really a trick-or-treating one. I hate that every other little girl in Rebecca’s gym class is going to be an angel or a princess or Cinderfuckingella, and she gets weird looks because we don’t celebrate the over-commercialized holiday. I hate that my kids lose the argument of whether a fall fair with hayrides and huge slides and smashing pumpkins and apple cider is just as good as buying a costume and being given candy by strangers.

Some days, I could just cry.

9 responses to “Some Days, I Could Just Cry

  1. I’m sorry – I hate our park too, for different reasons. I always get the pitying “so you work all day and this is the only time you can come to the park?” comments (since I go after 4 pm) or the “Oh you work from home so why don’t you keep your daughter there during the day” comments, or my favorite, “Do you think you’ll ever quit your job so you could do this full-time?”. The other day I was talking to a nice-seeming woman with two kids, who then tried to sell me Mary Kay and when I said I didn’t wear makeup, immediately left me alone. Blech.

    I’m making a Cinderella costume for A. but we have to end up going somewhere else to trick or treat. I probably won’t do that every year but it’s the first year she’s asked to dress up, and I figured if I made a costume, it could last for dress-up play for a while. At least, hopefully it would last longer than the ones they sell. My daughter also has a hard time playing with other kids at the playground sometimes – she doesn’t understand why they won’t talk to her or don’t want to play with her. 🙁

    Any time you would like to get together at a park, I’m up for it. I can’t go during the week in the day but I pick A. up at 3:30 or 4 so we could do an early evening or something. I am in that area pretty frequently.

    PS. A.’s favorite game is hide and seek. 🙂

  2. wow… i _totally_ understood this entry. not because i have kids myself, but because this was how i was raised (with imagination, not disney gear) and that’s how i hope to raise my kids. my parents were against halloween, but they let me go out one or two years because i pestered them. i made costumes from my mom’s old clothes and one year i remember i was anne shirley (from anne of green gables). i’ll bet no kids this year are going to be anne shirley.

    we didn’t have a lot when i was a kid so my parents encouraged my brother and me to make up our own games. one of our favorites was a paper cup that we drew goal lines in and played “soccer” with a bead. we never wore the power rangers t-shirts and most of my barbies were hand-me-downs from the 70s – i was the only kid with a barbie leisure suit! we didn’t go to special soccer camp or horseback riding, we ran around our backyard and built secret forts and played on the tire swing.

    and i suspect your kids will turn out like we did – with imagination, a love for nature and things that don’t come in plastic packages and fonder memories of their childhood than most people i know. anyway, this is turning into something longer than your entry, but just know that i thank my parents all the time for raising us the way they did, and your kids will too.

  3. I love Halloween. I love making costumes and bobbing for apples and feeling gooey guts at the neighborhood haunted house, but I just feel like I can’t compete at all where I live, so we do “this fall festival thing”: on the last weekend as a “not better, just different” solution.

    I gave up at the point where the question changed from “And what will you be for Halloween?” to “And what costume will you be buying for Halloween?”. I snapped. Any costume you make will have so many more memories than one you buy, and (yes, indeedy) last so much longer. Ask me about my Little Red Riding Hood robe that Rebecca now wears to bed.

    Anyway. I wish women were nicer to each other. It’s not all some huge competition where you have to destroy anyone who doesn’t fit into your cookie cutter mold.

    (Also, insulting my car was low. Low!)

  4. I think the fall festival sounds awesome – in fact, I think maybe we will take A. there! I know what you mean about this area. Before we moved to the sticks, when we were in Ashburn, Halloween was horrible. We had nasty kids dressed up in the latest expensive stuff, and they would yell that they wanted to pick their own candy if you tried to give them some. Oy. And the parents were horrible too, but most of them just let their kids run crazy around the neighborhood being bratty and demanding candy.

    I wish women were nicer to each other, too – so much for finding our “tribe” when everyone is so catty, eh? Oh, and if someone asked me what my rates were, I would flip out – I’m sure they mean “daycare” but it sounds like they are asking about something else entirely!

    I’ve been meaning to get this book about kids and nature and how our kids are growing up with no sense at all of the outside world and the play possibilities it offers. I watched A. play for an hour the other day with acorns and rocks, and it brought that point home to me because I could see her imagination working as she did little scenes between them and made up stories. 🙂

    Although I have a Cinderella pattern for her costume, A. actually requested a a generic “princess” outfit, so it’s going to be a pink and white dress. Right now A. is not Disneyfied and I’m hoping to keep it that way.

    Anyway, if you ever want to take over the park from the catty moms, I’m your girl. 🙂

  5. PS. I thought Volvos were some of the safest cars around (older ones especially – built like tanks). Those women are stupid.

  6. sorry those other women are all nasties. ::hugs:;
    maybe you can take comfort in the fact that in 10 years they’ll look like grandmothers and you’ll still look like and older sister. then they won’t be so superior!

  7. Matthew N. Dodd

    The 240 series is somewhat long in the tooth when it comes to side impact protection, though only because the statistical likelihood of the _other car_ being an SUV is higher these days. Generally collisions that result in cabin incursion will occur at speeds that make survival questionable anyway, so on the whole I feel pretty good about the safety.

    The lower center of gravity will reduce the energy your neck is required to deal with so all things being equal, I’d prefer to be in a low sedan or wagon than an SUV or minivan. SIPS and side-curtain airbags can offset some of these forces but they aren’t going to do a damn thing for a kid in a carseat or a 6 year old in a window seat.

    I’d rather manuver out of an impact in the first place so I’ll take the Volvo over just about everything else, as it, and our cars in particular, is set up to reduce body roll, chassis flex and provide a platform that is neutral at the limit of traction. (This allows you to maintain control rather than spinning out or running into a wall.)

    Jenn probably isn’t going to take full advantage of those qualities but the low cost of the vehicle means that she’ll have no hesitation about destroying the car if it allows her to arrive safely on the other side of an incident. Most people paying a car note are going to have some amount of “don’t wreck the vehicle” clouding their decision making ability during a crisis.

  8. I think I’d do most everything I could to avoid talking to the women there if I could, if they acted like that. Of course, the idea of talking to total strangers that I have nothing in common in always weirds me out anyway.

    Personally I think you take some pride in that you can completely dumbfound the idiots and make them wander off and not bother you anymore.

    Of course, you could just take to what Katy does, which appears to be outrageous lying . Last week on vacation some McD’s person gave her a diet coke instead of coke “because she was a girl”, so Katy told the clerk that she was transgendered. I about died when she told me that. ;p

    When they make a comment about your Volvo, just make a comment along the lines of “Oh, well I didn’t want to kill any innocent kids with a huge SUV like most of the people around here” or “We had one of those, but the aliens gave us this awesome spaceship, it’s so nice being able to fly over traffic.”

  9. Man. That bites about your park. I get some similar vibes from some of the parents at Vic’s school – they all pull up in big SUVs and most of the kids give out these fancy themed gift packs as part favors on their birthdays.

    But we don’t get that at the park. Usually Vic finds a couple of other kids to play chase games with or build sandcastles with.