I Probably Should’ve Taken A Vow Of Silence Yesterday

I want to be the parent who brings her children to fun places. So today I point to the McDonald’s playground and say: Let’s go there for lunch. (I’ll be the fun and healthy parent NEXT YEAR.)

HOORAY my kids shout!

And then I realize that I’m pointing to an outdoor playground. It’s 37 degrees out.

But my quick thinking mommy-ness recalls an indoor McDonald’s playground just down the street. I am again a hero!

Until I remember it is right by the LARGEST MALL IN OUR CITY. The week after Christmas. At noon.

I freeze. My hungry children outnumber me 2:1. I will be surrounded by other hungry children. I am Piggy* (*Lord of the Flies reference)

I backpedal: Can we do the drive-thru and go to the playground? (The weather doesn’t occur to me again. Nor does the snow.)

My son begins to cry. And scream I WANT TO GO TO THE MCDONALD’S PLAYGROUND!

My daughter joins in. Because she would join in anything he did that involved making loud noises.

His reaction, while undesirable, is reasonable. I dangled something big and fun in front of him. And then I took it away.

But I also recognize my limits. So I explain why mama is nervous about McDonald’s playground being really busy and me not having a buddy. To a four year old.

My son: But you’ll have me, Mama

And I die. Because he is so sweet. And I realize that I am trying to explain to my son why I’m a freak. Why I cannot handle more than two hours of negotiating children and moms and play areas. And I already use it up this morning on my adventures with his sister. I just didn’t have the wherewithal for another session of awkwardly parenting other people’s children to stop throwing bouncy donkeys down slides. And I didn’t want to lose it. Because I’d lose it at my own kids.

I beg Twitter to help without admitting I was begging. And you tweeted me places to go. From Applebee’s to a suggested play date of arson and Chuck E Cheese.

I go with the McDonald’s drive-thru and a bribe.

Me: If you stop screaming, you can watch television when we get home.

This awesome parenting moment is emphasized by my car fishtailing. On the one patch of ice in the parking lot.

My children continue to beat their voices against the unfairness of it all.


Which is pretty much the most asinine sentence a person can yell.

My son and daughter are now crying. Hysterically.

E: You hurt my FEELINGS, Mama.

I think: I SUCK.


I debate justifying my actions. Because I am so tired of sucking. And really, could children just be a bit more reasonable?

But instead I say: I’m sorry that I yelled. When Mama gets scared, sometimes she yells. And I thought that we were going to get in a car accident. But I’m sorry.

And I order two happy meals and a quarter pounder.

When we get home, my penance is an hour of Barney and Friends.

A couple of snuggles later, I tally up one extra week of therapy. For them.

And a blog post for me.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

31 thoughts to “I Probably Should’ve Taken A Vow Of Silence Yesterday”

  1. Ah, how I feel your pain. I too hate all places public in which I must endure social niceties.

    I used to think that I hated kids. Then I realized that it’s their parents I despise. If they just dumped their kids off to play and left, I’d be fine. But they’re THERE…”Billy….Billy?….Billy!….Billy….Billy, come over here and let mommy______________(insert something stupid here that a parent need not do for their 7 year old in public). ”

    And, of course since Mom is watching, it’s “Mom…Mom?…Mom!….Mom!…Mommy?!….MoOooOOOom!!!…Watch this.”

    When it’s time to leave. “Okay, Billy…it’s time to go now.”
    “Just ten more minutes?”
    “Okay, five more minutes.”

    Ugh. Spare me, please.

    This is why we have a big back yard with a home-made club house. I agree on the park idea…which is why I’m a much cooler and better mom in the warm seasons.

    1. i think that the overheard conversations are the worst. like the know-it-all moms who lecture their friends. drives me BONKERS.

      i totally need a home-made club house. that i may or may not share with my family.

  2. I suffer from some killer anxiety. The kind that I’ve had to discuss at length with “a professional.”

    Situations like the one you described? Would drive me around the bend. Truly. (I’m hyperventilating a bit just thinking about it.)

    When I get into situations like that, I weigh my options. Would my children be scarred less by me backing out of the situation or by following through on my promise and having my head spin in all sorts of frightening ways?

    Barney and Friends is the road I would have taken. No question about it.

    Love to you, my friend. You’re not alone in this crazy mom adventure. 🙂

    1. thank you for opening up like this. i really needed to not feel alone.

      and this is a sentence that i need to keep in mind: “Would my children be scarred less by me backing out of the situation or by following through on my promise and having my head spin in all sorts of frightening ways?”

    1. that would be so lovely. i don’t speak french though. which might even make it better. i can’t imagine how much less annoyed i’d be at people if i couldn’t understand them.

    1. i have never seen yo gabba gabba. we don’t have cable so we are all about pbs. and pbs hearts barney.

      i even did a post where i made him into a punk rock version. but those stuck up pbs programmers haven’t even CALLED

  3. I have done that numerous times over the years. Mine are a lot older but this week I’m kicking myself for mentioning going to the movies because I do not want to!

  4. I’m glad it’s not just me. I hate the STOP YELLING! shriek. Which I resorted to last night after an hour of her screaming. It makes me feel about as out of control as me snapping, STOP it now. To the least problematic behavior of the day. When is bedtime? Can I just start fresh?

    1. I have definitely been told that I can start my day over at anytime. And especially with parenting, I DO!

      Yes, the STOP IT snap… or the accusation when no one has actually done anything wrong? ugh. worst feeling ever.

      thanks for understanding.

  5. Here’s a question: is the anxiety due to feeling like you have to chat with other moms?

    The reason I ask is that because I sometimes (okay, always) want to chat with other moms at swimming lessons or Gymboree or whathaveyou and sometimes I get really squirrely answers or shiftiness and it makes me wonder if it’s just garden variety nervousness on their part or if I have something hanging out of my nose or perhaps I am freakish in my desire to chat up a stranger.

    Also, I probably would’ve had to Scooby Shuffle out of the McDonald’s offer because holy jesus with the germs. We would’ve all had to shower upon coming home.

    1. no. i actually don’t mind chatting with other moms if it’s nice basic stuff. and that often decreases my anxiety and increases my confidence a bit.

      my anxiety is when their kids are doing all these things and they aren’t stepping in or paying attention and I have the whole “when do i step in” debate.

      or when they are really know-it-all lecturing their mom friends.

      and it’s also around ushering my own kids in and out of areas. transitions can still be hard.

      ps. i loved your “scooby shuffle” reference. seriously made my day.

  6. okay, this is one of the reasons why I love you so hard. most parents would be tempted to only write about the most lovely of parenting moments. but you just lay it out there.

    and you know what? it’s not so bad.

    people think parents are supposed to be these perfect, all-knowing beings who do the right thing every single moment. um, but aren’t parents humans too? just checking. I mean, maybe you do get perfection status when you pop put an infant.

    you’re doing fine. your kids will not remember the McDonald’s playground incident and if they do, just take them to a hypnotist.

    1. okay so you saying this: “okay, this is one of the reasons why I love you so hard. most parents would be tempted to only write about the most lovely of parenting moments. but you just lay it out there.” nearly made me cry. it’s a hugely important part of my blog. to be honest. and it’s what my whole moms group grew out of. and you noticed and said it’s why you loved me. thank you thank you

  7. I don’t think you need to worry about therapy at all (I mean, not any more than the average parent has to worry about the average kid – we’re ALL screwing up our kids!). But seriously, we’ve all been there. I once got lost on the way to a play date and we nearly missed it, and I was trying to explain to H that I had just HAD it and needed to go home… talk about tears, most of which were his.

    It’s better for them to learn that life doesn’t always go to plan (okay, it never does), and we sometimes have to roll with it. H says, “I don’t like rolling with it, Mom.” 🙂

    The fact that you let them watch Barney tells me you are an amazingly patient and loving mom!

    1. ha! I don’t like rolling with it either H.

      but you’re right. learning to go with the flow and plans change is a huge life skill. i’ve never thought of it that way — so thanks.

    1. okay, this is NOT good news. i thought that i’d be able to get them with logic. but i guess mom freaking out isn’t exactly logical. maybe sympathy?

      oh well, at least i’ll have company!

  8. Every mom goes through those days. And the ones who tell you they don’t are lying, probably to themselves.

    But we can always make it up to our kids. And here’s the thing–they don’t remember. They do not sit on shrinks’ couches when they’re 20 talking about the time mom didn’t take them to the McDonald’s playground and then yelled when they were unhappy. They remember that mom was always honest and available and snuggly. PROMISE.

  9. My rule: Anything good is always a last-minute SURPRISE! I never announce what we’re doing or where we’re going until we get there. That way, I can change the WOOHOO at the last minute to something that doesn’t frighten me or make me quake in my boots. Also? Kids love surprises.

    1. I probably need to work in “IT’S A SURPRISE” into my conversations more often. It’s a good tool. Also, I hate surprises so it’s not something I natural think: YAY! But my kids definitely do. Thanks!

  10. I have yet to venture out to McDonald’s with my munchkin because I just don’t think that my nerves can handle it! However I love the playground in one of our local malls it is small enough that I can see him everywhere and bouncy enough that I know if he falls he’ll bounce right back.

    Don’t even get me started on Chuckie Cheese! If you don’t have ADD before you walk in there you are bound to have it by the time you walk out, and if you do have it going in by the time you leave you are a drooling walking zombie!

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