Summertime, and the living's easy...unless you're a parent of small children, at which point summertime can slog on for what feels like an eternity. As a result, many parents consider Facebook to be their best friend when they're at the local pool, the water park, the children's museum, the zoo -- whichever circle of summer hell they happen to be killing time in at that moment. As long as it has wi-fi, parents are still connected to what's happening in the rest of the world. The only problem is, they don't always have that much to contribute aside from banal parenting observations and running commentary on their kid's softball game.
Sure, some parents make funny jokes and craft clever insights on social media, but there are also a lot of parents who use their social feeds to vent or provide a play-by-play of their kid's every movement on the playground. And forget about family vacations -- parents either post a small handful of pics to say "we're at the beach!", or they post three dozen photos of their kids eating watermelon, putting on sunscreen, splashing in the ocean, drinking out of a fruit pouch, playing in the sand, etc. It's like being forced to look at your own family vacation photo album from when you were a child, except multiplied by the number of friends with small children in your Facebook feed. Also, no offense to all you camping parents out there -- I'm thrilled that you're teaching your kids to enjoy nature, canoes, campfires, and burying your shit in the woods -- but I've seen SO MANY OF YOU in my newsfeed lately, and it seems to me that you're all doing the exact same stuff. The other day I was scrolling through my feed and I had three friends in a row who'd posted pictures of recent camping trips, and while I still Liked them with all of my heart, I also wondered why they thought anyone really cared. One person's caption said, "Sam's 3rd time camping!!" with like 16 photos. They were all adorable, and it looked like they had s'mores, which I highly support, but they weren't anything special. No one got bit by a poisonous spider or caught the biggest fish I'd ever seen. Was I wrong to hope for more? I'm not saying I would ever wish the leeches scene from Stand by Me on anyone, but events like that do add a certain element of drama to a camping story.
I digress. Really, the issue isn't these innocuous photos of a summer well-lived. It's not the kids and their Babiators that bother me. As usual, it's the parents themselves who elicit my side-eye. Kids will be kids, as they say, especially during the hottest months of the year, and I feel no ill will toward their sprinkler antics. It's just that parents today either post about every single thing their kid does -- even the stuff you don't want to know, like how long their swimming boogers were when they got out of the pool -- OR they zap all the fun out of everything and whine more than their children. Anyone remember this from last year?
Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Water Slide, here's an idea: Don't have a fucking water slide in your backyard if you don't expect to wrangle a bunch of out of control children who are hopped up on Popsicle sugar every single day of the summer, from June to August, 8am to 8pm, because THAT'S what having a water slide in your backyard will net you. Everyone knows that if you're the parents who buy their kid the jumbo-sized trampoline, kids across town are going to come running over to your house to do backflips into the yard and potentially smash their teeth in. And only douchebags would force those children's parents to sign a Douche Waiver before they can indulge in the "summer fun." That's pretty fucked up, if you think about it. It's like these parents are on a water slide power trip that's veiled by some BS call for safety and legality due to potential liabilities. If I have a big, old oak tree in my backyard that children like to climb, should I also send those kids home with a contract stating that if they break their arm falling out of my tree, it's not my fault? Well, I suppose I *could* do that, if I was completely paranoid, lacking in common sense, and up my own ass. The fact is, kids WILL get injured, because they're supposed to, and no contract is going to stop a parent from "suing" if they're the types who sue. That doesn't mean those parents will win a lawsuit. It just means this contract isn't keep Mr. and Mrs. Water Slide from being sued. In fact, it's only encouraging the other parents in the neighborhood -- not to mention thousands of people on the internet via Reddit -- to gossip about their extraordinarily uptight ways. It's kind of surprising they've even been on a water slide before, much less own one.
But this is where we are with summer parenting in 2015. If you're not bragging about your kid pooping in the pool, you're asking your neighbors to sign documents that make them want to douse your water slide in gasoline and set it on fire in front of your weeping children. And Facebook is the number one place to get the skinny on all the happenings, since parents are tethered to their phones for the majority of daylight hours. (Aren't we all?) Let's check out some examples from this summer and summers past in which parents could've just casually sipped an Arnold Palmer spiked with vodka and refrained from posting on social media at all -- but didn't.
1. Pooping In The Water
I'm originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and I can tell you a few things about Lake Lanier. First and foremost, it's the closest man-made body of water to drive to from the city, so it's pretty popular. Atlanta is a land-locked city, and if you're not a member of a pool club or a fan of sneaking into condo or hotel pools (which you should be), you're pretty much screwed if you don't drive a distance in order to cool off in some water. Lake Lanier has never been a particularly pristine lake, but it's a lake nonetheless, and one that many Atlantans greatly appreciate. Which is why it's especially unnecessary to tell everyone on Facebook that your kid just dumped it "in front of 20 people" (who were in the lake with him??), whether he was wearing a water diaper or not. I do not want to get to the bottom of this fecal matter. I just want to pretend I never knew it happened.
"Luckily everyone loves Maddox." HAHAHAHA they do? Even when he shits in the pool at the W, which is by most accounts supposed to be an above-average hotel experience? Would they also love Maddox to throw food in the bar and lounge, or have a tantrum in his room at 6am? I bet they would! If they can love Maddox after he deposits his poop in an otherwise refreshing rooftop pool that serves as the hotel's greatest amenity, I bet they could love him doing ANYTHING. Props to you, Carin, for raising such a well-liked little boy! But um, there's a reason this sign exists.
2. Parentsplaining About Water Safety
Oh dear lord. I received this submission last year and while I GET IT that the kid could be / should be wearing a life jacket, life jackets can be burdensome and annoying and aren't always COMPLETELY necessary. Poor Bayfield, Wisconsin sure had to find out the hard way. I hope the social media manager who suffered the wrath of a hundred Facebook parents as a result of posting this photo has gone on to bigger and better things this summer. Or that she at least had a snack prepared before dealing with all of...this:
Kris's zinger is funny, but it's also true. Can you imagine the reaction if Nirvana released the cover for Nevermind on its Facebook page in 2015? THE HORROR. I know these parents are well-meaning, but like...let's be real for a second: This kid survived. The photo wasn't posted in real time. It was ALL OKAY. There was someone right there taking the picture, along with his dad on the board, and it worked out fine. This photo is not a promotion for children to not wear life jackets. If a parent sees it and automatically thinks, "Cool! My kid never needs a life jacket," then that parent is a moron.
But -- and hear me out on this -- maybe it's also just as healthy to show kids at risk of being in danger in 2015 as it is to show them practicing safety. Maybe we're getting to the point where we can't even post a video of a 10-year-old riding his bike without a helmet on a short, flat driveway without parents on Facebook losing their shit, and that's actually doing a disservice to helicopter parents who research keeps telling us are setting their kids up to fail in life. Can't a boy and his dad cruise Lake Superior on a paddleboard in 9" of water and not catch a wave of stern warnings from everyone in the state of Wisconsin? Is that even possible anymore? Let's focus on the bigger issues, people -- like ice cream trucks roaming the streets past 7pm and getting children's hopes up for nothing. Now THAT should be a crime. Take it away, Joanne...
3. Feelings About Ice Cream
Well, GOOD, Joanne! I'm glad you feel better knowing there are other screechy parents like you who simply can't get over the outrageous ruckus made each and every night by those asshole ice cream truck drivers! HELLO, ice cream men and women of America, Joanne SEES YOU and HEARS YOU and so do her precious children who are put to bed at a reasonable hour as all children should!!! They are CHILDREN, just little BABIES who don't know any better. They don't know that ice cream tastes just as sweet at 3pm as it does as 8pm; they just know they want sprinkles and a chocolate goatee STAT. And all their sensible parents want is for them get a little shut-eye, but can they do when ice cream vans are roaming the streets, blasting their signature music and tickling the eardrums of sleepy kids who perk up the instant they think of ice cream? NO. They can't. The ice cream man is a blight on our society and should be banned from driving past 6pm, period. Parents should go to brick and mortar ice cream shoppes anyway, like Dairy Queen. At least at Dairy Queen, you won't get any surprises.
The best part of this sanctidaddy's rant is when he says, "Imagine the heart-crushing moment that I read that they were out of chocolate ice cream. Imagine having to destroy the excitement of two little boys," because I read it in Werner Herzog's voice which made it extra sad and ominous. How DARE the Dairy Queen in Manistee, Michigan run out of such a popular flavor of ice cream on a warm summer's eve? How dare they do it, and dare they think they can get away it?! Uh-uh. No siree, Bob. That disappointment will not stand. Especially given that we're in the Facebook Era, and a guy like Gregory can complain any darn time he wants on Dairy Queen's public Facebook page. Still, even if Dairy Queen was to "make good" on this terrible tragedy, they'll never be able to replace that day. The Day the Ice Cream Dream Died for Gregory's two sons. The day they were told they couldn't everything they wanted in life, even after patiently waiting and potentially earning everything they desired. They went in hopes of sprinkle toppings, but all they got were crushed dreams. :(((
4. Splash Pad Woe Is Dad
So, in case everyone's been living under a rock rather than under the bright, hot, fiery ball in the sky known as the sun, FYI: there's a drought occurring in certain parts of the world, and it's impacting how some cities manage their water flow. In Vancouver, water restrictions were so extreme (due to extreme drought!), municipalities had to close wading pools and some water parks as a result of all this climate change mumbo jumbo scientists keeps prattling on about. For most people, these restrictions are a welcome use of government; in fact, this is why we *have* government, to regulate resources when they're being abused or are no longer in abundance, so we all continue to have access to stuff like "clean water" when we need it. But, not everyone was pleased by Vancouver's responsible monitoring of water flow. No, not Craig. HE'S been dealt a shitty hand, and he's got something to say about it.
"...and we now know he won't be able to go to this fun spray park until he's 4." Have you ever read anything more emblematic of Woe Is Dad in your life??? Me neither. Take off your water wings and put on your big boy pants, Craig. Oh, and fuck off. Whiners like you don't do anything good for society, like, oh, I don't know, becoming an activist for climate change and teaching your son why the splash park was closed and what he can do to help mitigate the effects of global warming. We are all potential agents of change if we put our efforts where they matter most. Clearly, Craig hasn't gotten the memo. Keep whining on Facebook, Craig. It's a hot summer look.
5. Mom's Gold Star: Summer Edition
Normally I would feel badly for Morgan's kid in a scenario like this, but at the end of the day, I have to side with the adult who opted to mess with her kid in order to keep the peace and go about her day. Sometimes you just have to do what's right as a parent -- and that involves lying to your sub-intelligent kids while you still can. Kudos, Morgan. You know wsup.
Kathy, I think I love you. Why can't all parents post status updates and comments like this? You're witty, self-deprecating, and perfectly willing to acknowledge that your children's brains have melted over the course of the summer. If this were a relay at a swim meet, you'd win the blue ribbon. If I had food on the grill, you'd get the first hamburger. The "journals all of the animal characters kept back in the ice age" remark was like a cannonball straight into the deep end of my heart. Nicely done. You've earned yourself a hot fudge sundae AND a margarita on the rocks. Good luck with the rest of the summer.