Whelp, summer is officially upon us.
Which means if you’re anything like me, these little animals that we call children are home.
So after 2.6 million games of Candy Land, breaking out the Play-Doh, countless hours of Lego building, becoming an imaginary superhero, bike riding, baking, cooking, and laundry I have mentally and physically left the building. And sadly, we are only on the second day of summer break.
At this point, I am certifiably insane. You know how I know this? Because crazy people do desperate things. And in my desperation, I did something that I hate to do with all my mind and body. I packed up the family Truckster and took my kids to an Indoor Play Place.
The Indoor Play Place is the final resting stop for all frazzled parents everywhere. You can see the look of defeat on each and every one of our faces. We are screaming it behind our fake smiles “I GIVE UP!”
Because no one with the proper mental facilities would pay $12 for their kid to run around and jump in an indoor bounce house at a strip mall. No one in their right mind would allow their kid to play with a plastic toy that was just in a strange child’s mouth. But Summer Mother isn’t all there. She’s desperate. She’s trying to fill the time void until the next meal, the next nap, the next bedtime. Summer Mother isn’t practical – she’s a crazed lunatic. And where do the crazy parents hold the meetings for their 12 step program? The Indoor Play Place. That’s right.
This, my friends, is one step above the park and one step below maximum desperation – Chuck-E-Cheese. I’m not there yet.
But it’s only Tuesday.
My toddler entered the Indoor Play Place like a little version of Macklemore entering the club… one hand in his Superman underwear, mismatched ensemble he put together himself of a NY Jets Jersey (Johnathan Vilma, by the way, who hasn’t played for the Jets since 2007), a plaid vest and pajama pants with a paisley pattern – Yes, he rocks your Grandpa’s style – His other hand is reserved for the thumbs up sign he’s throwing at the little blond girl in the corner who has lifted her dress high above her head exposing her Frozen undies. I watch his eyes as they dart around the room, sizing the place up, undoubtedly looking for the most dangerous or disgusting thing to play on/with. He cracks a smile from ear to ear and runs off in the direction of the dress up corner. Before I can even form the word, “Wait…” he has placed a plastic Fireman’s hat on his little head. He’s dancing around singing a fire truck song, and I’m putting “buy RID Lice Shampoo” on my shopping list.
The Indoor Play Place isn’t for the faint of heart.
As I begrudgingly hand over my $12 to the establishment, I find a place without gum or Nutella stuck to it to sit down. This is the part of the Indoor Play Place that sucks for parents. The waiting. There are three loads of baby laundry on my bed that I have to fold today. Can’t do that here. I need to marinate a pork loin for dinner and buy a fresh salad but instead I am sitting in a vacuum. No sane person would do this.
I’m tending to the baby, making small talk with another mom who looks about 1 step away from institutionalization. She’s wearing two different sneakers. They aren’t even the same brand let alone the same style or color. I decide to keep this observation to myself. Nothing good can come of her knowing that right now.
My 3-year-old calls, “Hey Mom, watch this,” while he hangs from a rafter, clearly not part of the actual maze the Indoor Play Place has put together.
“That’s lovely honey,” I mutter, not wanting to battle it out here. There will be enough battles when I try to get him to leave.
He finally approaches me with those words no Mom wants to hear in a public place, “I have to go potty.”
I’m starting to think my toddler might actually be reviewing public toilets for Zagat or Yelp! Because he has sat on every public toilet in a 50-mile radius.
I then venture to the restroom with him where he proudly sits on the toilet and sings the ABC’s while his little legs dangle. The last time this happened was at a Golden Corral restaurant (don’t ask), and the whole family was sick for a week. Of course, the baby is now ripe and needs a diaper change too. I whip a gallon of hand sanitizer out of my purse and make the changing table fit to lay my changing mat on. I can’t help think about some of the college bars I frequented back in the day. Considering there aren’t any drunk 20 somethings here, this bathroom could give them a run for their money. I wipe some asses, and we leave that nasty place. A minute more and I might have puked.
After 2 hours I’m finally able to get him to leave without incident promising him the ultimate toddler treat, frozen yogurt.
Make mine a double. With a side of hand sanitizer.