It’s summertime, which means every family is attempting to cram fifty different field trips into roughly three months’ worth of weekends. I get it – I’m exactly the same way. I have to get though a list of places my kids beg me to take them allllllll year round. Every single summer weekend is me escorting my kids around the state in the heat, spending all the money I would have spent on the heat bill during the winter on carrots for the fucking goats at the petting farm. But since I’m such a giving person, I’m going to give you a rundown of places people typically schlep their kids to this time of year, and why you should basically just stay home, pop in a DVD, and enjoy that sweet A/C coming out of those vents (or not, whatever).
The Zoo: Big mistake. Huge. When you say to your kids, “Hey! Let’s go to the zoo!” what you’re really saying is, “Hey! Let’s get all excited about seeing wild animals, then go someplace where the animals just lay around on rocks, making it difficult to tell if the bears are alive or dead because it’s so damn hot, and they’re so far away I have to point to show you where they are which means absolutely nothing to you because you obviously don’t really understand the idea of ‘looking where someone points,’ because you’re looking about 90 degrees off from where I’m pointing.” If you insist on taking your kids anyways, stick to an all-indoor exhibit agenda, followed by the ice cream cart. Trust me: Reptile House, Butterfly House, Penguin Exhibit, Ice Cream, Parking Lot. Anything else is just an endless walk on a cement- and whine-paved nature trail.
The Splash Park: You fell for this one too, right?! I took my kids to the splash park a few summers ago, thinking I was The Shit for surprising my kids. I realized my error when two of them just wandered around, using their hands to shield themselves from the constant threat of water being randomly sprayed in their face or spritzed into their eyeballs. The prissy moms sitting in lawn chairs around the splash area were none too pleased when one of my children gave up and started making a mud pie on the perimeter of the play area.
Petting Farm: Alright, this is fail-safe, right?! Animals right up in your face, being cute, and you can touch them?! Slam dunk. Except here’s a hot tip: make absolutely sure before you go that none of your kids are terrified of farm animals before you go. Actually, never mind – your kid is probably a liar like my two-year-old was, and will tell you how excited they are to pet the sheep, then break down into uncontrollable, can’t-breathe, I’m-convinced-this-sheep-is-going-to-steal-my-soul crying once they are faced with an actual sheep. They will cry the entire time you tour the farm, because you can’t just leave when your other children are running around the barn treating the goats like they’re A-list celebrities. So you will be that mom, the one that forces your child to try to have fun. Some of the moms will have sympathy for you, though, because they’re fresh off their disastrous splash park trip from the previous weekend.
The Beach: HAHAHAHAHA. I know, I know. The beach is the epitome of summer family outings. But it’s really awful, I promise you. It starts with dragging a ton of heavy shit from the car to the scorching-hot sand while trying to herd your tiny miracles across the parking lot. Then, instead of eating the food you brought, your kids will beg you for overpriced ice cream, which you will buy because HEY, WE’RE AT THE BEACH! If your kids do swim, you’ll spend your time stressing about sharp rocks or undertows or otherwise floating away into the great unknown instead of reading the book you brought; if your kids don’t swim, you’ll be too pissed about all the hassle that went into a trip to the beach when your kids won’t even get into the goddamn water to even think about reading your book. Some jerky kid will steal your kid’s sand bucket, then your kid will accidentally step on someone tanning, and then you’ll decide it’s time to pack up and go. Your kids will cry over this decision no matter how long you stay, so just tune it out and think about something else, like how Disco Duck was an actual thing.
Listen, I’m not necessarily saying never do any one of these things. What I’m saying is do them, but be aware that it will turn out to be a four-alarm disaster. That way, at least you’ll know that it’s not your fault that you want to drop your family off at home and then just keep driving until the gas and the bank account run dry. You never even had a chance, and that’s okay. Don’t worry, though – your kids are crazy enough that they will completely re-write history and tell you later how much fun they had with you.
Now go sit and relax on that couch, because the weekend’s coming far too soon, and fall is still too far away for comfort.
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