- Coloring Easter Eggs. Messy. Fragile. Finished product never looks like the box. Stupid little sticker and egg wrap accessories and wax crayon never work. Kids fighting over who gets to put their egg in the *green* dye and who gets to use the stupid little useless wire spoon that comes in the kit. Spills. At least the fun is mercifully over after a dozen eggs.
- Computer Games. I don’t know who these parents are on the Nick Jr. channel who are happily sitting at a computer with their four-year-olds as they learn letters and shapes and numbers with the Team Umizoomi and other Nick characters online. One mom says something all gushy about how she knows her daughter is learning and having fun. Cue beamy smile. That’s not how it works in my house. In my house, or at the library where they have “kid-friendly” computers, the minute Justin or Alex sign on it’s an exercise in frustration for everyone. I have to come running over every two minutes because they’re stuck on some level, have closed out of something, the screen is frozen, they can’t manipulate the mouse correctly, they’re not getting any of the answers right. It’s more screaming and beating on the desk than “having fun,” and that’s why we don’t get on the computer very often.
- Bowling. After the 20th time you’ve told a kid to get his damn hands out from between two 12-pound bowling balls before the ball retriever sends one up the chute slamming his finger, it becomes less than fun. Ditto for two-year-olds wanting to “skate” on the oil-slicked lanes.
- Santa and Easter Bunny Visits. I would rather remove my own spleen with a Swiss Army knife than wait on line in a mall with hordes of screaming, bacteria-ridden little kids for a one minute visit and an overpriced snapshot with these holiday deities in a bed bug infested costume, who are probably being paid minimum-wage, and just biding their time until they can to go out to their cars on break for the carton of Marlboros awaiting them. Besides, have you ever seen a picture of a kid with an Easter Bunny that wasn’t just outright creepy?
- Hiking. I’m not an overprotective mother, but I don’t like heights. And seeing my climbing-happy three-year-old scurry up the top of a 50-foot embankment, despite frantic pleas to come back down, scares the living daylights out of me.
- School Valentines. I’m not one of those fun-hating moms who wants to banish all holiday-themed festivities from school, but at the same time, helping kids address 25 some odd cheapo Spider-Man valentines and trying to find a way to wedge a crumbly heart sucker into them and secure with a piece of Scotch tape is not my idea of a good time. Kindergarteners get frustrated because there isn’t enough room to scrawl the names onto those postage stamp sized cards. Grade schoolers want to spend a fortune on candy that is nothing but pure sugar and has the same effect on tooth enamel as 190 proof grain alcohol has on the liver. And the cheesiest soap opera can’t compete with the ever-changing “relationship” statuses of middle schoolers.
- Fishing. My guys believe in cast first, look later. There is no question that eventually someone’s going to end up in the ER with a fish-hook stuck in his head. Also if not everyone catches a fish, there is large-scale pouting from the fishless, and insufferable gloating from those who had a good day.
- Baking Sugar Cookies. I used to love making frosted sugar cookies for Christmas, Easter, Halloween. Actually any holiday whose theme could be expressed with cute cookie cutter shapes. I love my recipe. A hint of almond extract, cookies taken out of the oven while they’re still soft, and the most excellent creamy frosting. Then my kids started to want to help. And it’s a constant battle jockeying for position, who gets to crack the eggs, who gets to pour the milk, who gets to stir. Meanwhile I have to fish eggshells out of the dough, make sure everyone’s hands don’t look like they’ve been digging in mud before we get started. Then it’s a matter of licking the spoons, and who gets to lick what, and he got more than I did, it’s no fair, and everyone’s sampling the raw dough. Then we drag out the food coloring, and inevitably there is a spill, and we don’t have enough sprinkles, and the poor dog picks the wrong time to walk through the kitchen and gets caught up in a haze of powdered sugar. And before the last cookie is frosted, that’s when everyone clears out faster than lightning when it becomes evident that the next task is the massive clean-up.
- Fireworks. I’m as big of a pyromaniac, inherited from my father, as anyone on the 4th of July, but when David and Cameron started shooting off their own fireworks, I became a bit of a spaz. Not so much because of David, but seriously the last thing anyone needs is Cameron having access to explosives.
- School FUN-ctions. Any grade school event, usually tied in with fundraising, that has to use the word “fun” in the title (i.e. “Family Fun Night”), has zero chance of being fun for parents. Bring your flask.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012