Thursday, 22 May 2014

12 Outings you should NOT do with your kids


12 Outings you should NOT do with your kids
22 May 2014

I’ve done some really awesome outings and fun things with my kids.  From family picnics, to movie dates.  From walks along the beach to trips to the museum.

And all in all, we’ve had some fabulous times with lots of fond memories along the way.  However, I must confess – it has not all been good.  We’ve had some whoppers!  Disappointment doozies.  And occasionally they’ve left me reeling.  Sometimes even wishing I could run away in horror.  And thus I thought I’d make a little list (yes, yes – I love lists).

12 Outings you should NOT do with your kids
  1. Ice-creams on the beach on a windy day.  This is particularly unpleasant if you have a baby in tow.  If you plonk the kid down in the sand, their ice-cream will be covered with sand.  And sunblock.  A cruel and heartless combo.  Most especially as they are usually not discerning.  Most of them will quite happily crunch away on a sandy, gritty, dripping vanilla soft serve.  They tend to clench and therefore the bottom bit of the cone, goes soggy from ice cream drippings, and other unmentionables – namely gratuitous dribbling.  Cause then there’s the drool.  It’s like their saliva glands are over stimulated and they leak all over.  Most precious of all?  Their deepest desire for you to share.  To have a lick of their treat.  Not.  On.  Your.  Life.  Kid.  With toddlers, these outings are not much better.  In fact, all of the baby elements are there, minus the drooling.  But the one additional “fun” element you get with a toddler?  Well that would be their inherent inability to remain stationary for any length of time.  They’re ridiculously clumsy – chances are, your little poppet is going to hop about, stumble and fall.  Ice-cream gone.  Fair enough – you buy them another one.  But very often they don’t want another one.  They want the same one.  The same dripping, soggy, mushy, sandy mess.  Or they’ll just gob on yours instead.  Yay - Not!
  2. Don’t even think of going close to any venue or outdoor place where there is water, unless you have a spare set of clothes.  Water accidents happen – mostly on purpose.  Kids in general find water irresistible.  From the sea, river, dam and pool, to the humble sprinkler.  They will somehow get completely drenched.  The same goes for muddy places, like our beloved Nature Reserve.  Few things are more fun for the kids, than an “accidental” fall in the muddy pond.  I’ve made them strip naked, and put them on a black bag on the back seat to drive them home after one of these “fun” outings.  Repeating over and over, “Don’t touch anything!”.
  3. Board Games – aren’t they fun.  NOT!  Well, perhaps I’m a bit harsh.  Perhaps the problem with board games, is not really the board games.  Because to be fair, I actually love board games.  The problem is this – I have three kids.  At different ages, different kids like different games.  Everyone goes through a Monopoly phase.  Unfortunately not at the same time.  So what happens is this – when your eldest child discovers Monopoly, you have to continually try and bat the younger kids off the board.  Which is a problem you see, as they want to feel all grown-up and play along too.  Giving them menial “important” tasks like rolling the dice for everyone, holds little appeal.  As well as the alternative – moving everyone’s pointers along.  They knock things over, use the wrong pointer, lose count, and end up confusing everyone.   Including them in the game is equally pointless, cause as a mother, you find yourself playing for three people.  They can’t count their own money, and you have to constantly say stuff like, “NO, YOU CAN’T BE THE BANK”- they can’t even friggin count!!!  And then, all of the sudden, the tables turn - the middle child discovers Monopoly.  Now chances are, you might still be able to convince the eldest child to play along.  But once again, the youngest child (who insists on being the banker, rolling the dice, moving the pointers, picking up ‘Chance’ and ‘Community Chest’) is a problem.  Which leads you to believe that Monopoly truly is the worst game in the world.  Until it gets even worse.  By this stage, the youngest child is finally able to play the game.  Now you have to pay the eldest child real money, just so that he will partake in the game.  Admonishing him to have a conscience, and not go for the immediate kill and wipe his brother off the board.  Allowing the kid to at least have a chance.  The middle child, could still be fairly flexible and go along with the game for a bit.  To occasional sighs, it can be said.  And then all of a sudden you find yourself, four hours later, still playing Monopoly.  The eldest kid keeps on looking at his phone, texting.  And you have to continually remind him, “It’s your turn”.  So you end up rolling the dice for him, and moving his pointer along.  The middle child begs for mercy and a reprieve from Monopoly to watch TV instead.  So you end up rolling the dice for her, and moving her pointer along.  The youngest child attempts to be the bank.  At this stage, you don’t mind if the bank short changes you.  As long as the torture ends.  I used to love Monopoly.  My kids have stolen that joy.
  4. Card games – if I never play, “Go catch a fish” again in my life, it will be too soon.  It is without a doubt, the most soul destroyingly boring card game.  In.  The.  World.  It is monotonous.  Tedious.  Long winded.  And after a while, it becomes very hard to restrain yourself from not whipping their butt, so that it would just mercifully end.  But they are ever watchful for this.  Letting them win too easy, is also a no-go.  They’re sharp little buggers.  And then there’s that other little gem – Snap!  With those silly little donkey cards.  And no sooner, have you started weaning them off “Go catch a fish”, than they discover “Rummy”.  These are trying times.  Most difficult being pretending to be stupid and not understanding the game, so that they can also occasionally win.  Purposefully discarding a card you need, that you know they need (cause they flash and drop their cards continually), in the hope that it will end your suffering soon.  Pretending to take your time, allowing them ample opportunity to spot the card you’ve just generously chucked their way, without actually having to reduce their sense of accomplishment in spotting it for themselves.  It is dra-a-a-a-a-i-i-i-ning!
  5. Libraries – I love reading.  With a passion.  And it is a skill that I’ve encouraged in my kids.  Sadly with only moderate success.  One took to it.  But two haven’t.  They like books with pictures.  Just like their Dad…..  Taking a little kid to the library is both very sweet and very challenging.  Taking a little kid with ADHD and an inbred inability to be quiet, to the library, is testing endurance.  They can’t decide exactly which book they’d like.  And insist on opening all of them up, and speed glancing through every page first, to see if it will hold their attention.  By which point, it doesn’t hold their attention anymore, cause they’ve now seen everything.  And so, they go for the next book.  And the next.  They like to attempt whispering.  But to be truthful, they’re truly dreadful at it.  It’s more stage whisper than real whisper.  And I’m convinced that the car guards manning the cars outside of the library can hear them saying stuff like, “This book looks really boring – it’s just got words in it”.  Bless!  The elderly are a bit intolerant at times, and one can be subjected to lots of raised eyebrows, frowns and annoyed glances.  I hope I don’t turn into them one day.
  6. People with disabilities are very hard for kids to understand.  And even though one can have the talk with them many, many times, there are a few things you should understand going in – chances are they’ll stare, maybe even point, and they’ll use their “whisper”.  To disastrous and embarrassing effect.  Eish!
  7. Chewing gum and bubble gum – now though this does not fall under the heading of an outing, it still qualifies in the “Things you should NOT do with your child” category.  Now I’m not all that strict.  And at a certain age it’s fine.  But they’re not responsible gum chewers at the best of times.  In every child’s life, there will be a “bubble-gum-in-the-hair-experience”.  It’s a part of growing up.  This is usually followed by a “parent-googling-how-to-remove-bubble-gum-experience”.  I’ve done this many times.  And the answer is twofold – patience and peanut butter.  The same also works for bubble gum on car seats, bedding and couches.  Yes – it hurts.  Us more than them.  Most especially as you knew it would end in disaster at some point in time.
  8. Restaurants with little kids.  I’ve always had the opinion, that as much as possible, my kids should fit into my life.  That I would take them everywhere with me, within reason, and that we would simply get on with it.  And then all of a sudden I found myself only doing restaurants with kiddies play areas.  It made sense.  It was a fabulous outing for them.  They were happy, and came home tired from playing.  The down side is this – when your kids are little, you have to sit really close to the extremely noisy, shrieking children’s area.  Piercing shouts of joy, followed by occasional shrieks of crying.  It happens.  In addition, a fun family outing for us, has always been The Spur.  I LOVE THE SPUR!  And I’m not being sarcastic either.  I truly love the Spur.  The Spur’s Cheddamelt Burger is beyond belief as well as their chips drowned in a combo of their pink/white sauce and their barbeque sauce.  But here’s the odd thing – my kids would walk into the Spur, fling off their shoes and chuck them under the table and sprint to the kiddie’s area.  And once they entered there, all three of them would shout simultaneously - “THEY’VE GOT A JUMPING CASTLE!”.  Now this might not seem odd.  But here’s the thing.  At any given time, I have fourteen Jumping Castles in my garage.  Fourteen!  And I’ve done Castles for nearly ten years already.  On cleaning day, all of my kids jump.  The eldest one, has obviously outgrown it now, but my youngest two still jump at home.  Even more bizarre, on the odd occasion the Spur’s Castle has broken and they’ve rented one of mine, my kids would still walk in and say, “THEY’VE GOT A JUMPING CASTLE!”.  They are truly strange.  And there certainly comes a point in life, when you’re not all that keen to sit on top of the children’s area.  Sad, but true.
  9. Fishing – we’ve got a family holiday house, belonging to my grandparents.  The most magical little place in the world.  And we like to go there fairly often.  Mostly we go when the whole large extended family is there, in peak holiday time.  But every so often, we sneak away for a little break, with just the five of us.  We make a fire in the fireplace, go for walks, play games, play darts, etc.  And given the fact that the holiday house is in a small little seaside village called, Kleinbaai, and the house is right on the sea, we go rock pool exploring daily.  The kids take fishing nets or rods.  Sometimes even just pieces of wood, with fishing line, a sinker and a hook.  At great length fresh bait is killed and put on the hook, and then we sit and wait.  Normally not long.  We don’t do deep sea fishing after all, you see.  More in our favourite little rock pools, where the biggest fish is guaranteed to be no more than about 5cm to 7cm.  The problem is this – these little rock pools are pretty fertile fishing ground.  And as no one is going to eat these fish, it’s more of a catch and release thing you see.  Pretty grim, to catch them in the first place, I suppose.  I confess, it’s not my favourite.  But here’s the thing – there are five of us.  And absolutely nobody likes removing said hooked fish, off of the hook.  Neither of the parents (gives me the heebie jeebers when they flop about), and none of the kids.  We’re a bunch of whoosies.  To be fair, my youngest kid is the bravest and usually manages to do the dirty deed.  But this is never fun.  And I can’t imagine the fish liking it any better either.  And thus my advice would be – before going off on a fishing adventure with your kid, ensure that there is at least one non-squeamish in your adventure party.
  10. Mini Golf, or Put-Put.  But maybe it’s not Mini Golf or Put-Put.  Chances are it’s just me.  Or my kids.  Or the wind.  Or the lost balls.  Or the blunt pencils used on the score cards.  Or how small the score cards are.  Or the fact that it’s close to a little café, which means my kids become hungry and thirsty even though they’ve just eaten.  Or it’s the excess of faux green grass.  Or it’s the silly little sticks.  Or it’s the fact that there are eighteen holes.  Or it’s the …
  11. Any outing with a sick child.  Now admittedly herein lies the trick.  Sometimes kids seem perfectly healthy.  Sprightly and full of energy.  Until they decide to park a tiger, and vom.  In the middle of Pep Stores in Gansbaai.  On an end of the month Saturday.  Few things can surpass the horror.  Unless they’re vomming in your car.  Which is somehow slightly worse.  My brother once gave my kids a lift all the way from my Mom’s in Tulbagh in a rental car that he had to drop off at the Airport.  I was meeting him there, as he was about to go off to Joburg or some or other place, for a gig or a tour.  At this stage, he didn’t have kids of his own yet.  One of my chilluns started going green at the beginning of the trip.  And miraculously held it together, until they reached the airport.  My brother managed to slow the car down, and the door was opened in haste.  But sadly she missed.  The outside.  And rather bedecked the interior of the rental.  I met them shortly after the deluge and armed with a packet and wet wipes, I sped off in the distance with my kids.  My brother on the other hand, had to go and hand over the keys at the rental car company and explain.  I believe he said, “We’ve had a bit of an accident”.  I’m assuming that they assumed the worse.  As in car wreck.  And upon investigation and finding the actual “accident” they were rather relieved.  At least that’s what I keep on telling myself.
  12. Christmas Shopping.  This falls in the horror-to-top-all-horrors category.  Few things are more torturous than taking your kids along when you do Christmas shopping.  For various reasons.  Namely Christmas shopping happens at a time of year, when THE WHOLE WORLD IS ALSO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.  It also coincides with extreme summer heat.  So you’re hot and bothered, and everybody is at the shops.  Trying to surreptitiously sneak in little Johnny’s present into the cart, while he’s busy munching on a packet of crisps you hadn’t wanted to buy, requires a certain level of skill.  Kids have a keener sense of smell than police trained sniffer dogs.  They WILL find that present.  Which means that you’ll lie to them about who it’s for.  And end up buying them a cold drink (that you didn’t want to buy), just so that they will get distracted.  But like elephants, they have incredible memories, and they will bust your chops.  Which in turn means that you’ll elaborately put the present back on the shelf, and try and sneak it back into the trolley at a later stage once more.  Alternatively, you’ll give up all pretence.  And just come back the following day.  With the kids.  Again.  Round Two!!!  It’s a bit like groundhog day.
These are but a few examples of some of the truly awful outings just lying in wait for you.  Hoping to leave you scarred.

Yes, it’s true.  However, I’ve also had some wonderful outings with my kids.  Like staying at home, and having a movie fest on the couch.  Far safer…

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1 comment:

  1. Apt and so funny! Thanks Helene!