(aka Monday is still Monday and even slapping a public holiday on it won’t stop her from being a bitch.)
Being a parent. Having a family. Family Day. Time together. Quality time. Yeah, Family Day – isn’t that what day we celebrated today with that public holiday? Oh, the pseudo-irony.
What do families choose to do, in this part of the world? Well, it seemed like every single family within a 100km radius decided to go to the Pretoria Zoo. Why? Because (and I have no doubt about this, because it’s my own personal experience) they undoubtedly began the day with visions of picnics on blankets and laughing children and sheer delight at being able to view the wondrous creatures that Mother Nature is capable of producing.
Either that, or they went there on the off-chance that one of the crocs was hungry and might be persuaded to snack on a whining, never-satisfied three-year-old. And if not that – then it can only be because they sell liquor at the Zoo.
Anyway. Visions of an enthralled Kid, a relaxed Boyfriend and any carefree strolling/wandering around aimlessly looking at whatever caught our fancy lasted about 15 minutes into the 45 minute car journey. There was an argument, and it may or may not have been related to directions and/or the GPS.
Relaxation took a leap out the back window when we (read: he) couldn’t find the entrance to the parking and we circled the block about 9.4 times. Discovered all parking lots were full. Got directed to a sort of a drive-through entrance, only to discover that there were no ATMs in the Zoo. Whatsoever. Apparently. So we had to then back out of a queue that was about 20 cars deep behind us, at this stage. Try to find an ATM. More block-circling. Fucking one-way streets. WHAT’S THE GEE-DAMN POINT? Locate ATM. Get harassed by cops for stopping IN THE WRONG DIRECTION on the street. Because that’s a serious crime, right?
Get to Zoo. Kid is whining. Pay entrance fee. Go to penguin enclosure. Smelly. Penguins are cute, so it’s worth holding your nose for those. Kid is whining about the smell. Get to tunnel where they have the snakes and shuffle behind a queue of people all cramming around glass enclosures exclaiming over the snakes and merrily snapping pictures on their cell phones.
Kid is whining about being thirsty. Kid is whining about his legs being sore. Kid falls in a hole. Kid cries. Kid wants to go on Ferris wheel (small one) but doesn’t want to go on the train. Doesn’t want to eat lunch. In fact, this picture pretty much sums up his entire experience of the whole day.
So not interested.
And I could see that we weren’t the only parents exasperated with their children. The more children the parents were towing behind them, the greater the look of harassment on their faces. Tantrums, toddlers wheedling to be carried, nagging for money for a balloon or getting told off (somewhat half-heartedly) for leaning over too far into the crocodile enclosure – all around us parents were enduring the same set of challenges.
All of this making me wonder – why do we put ourselves through this – arranging (what we hope will be) fun family outings, when The Kid would probably have been happier at the playplace at the McDonalds down the road and mommy and daddy could sit in peace and have a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
So why do we, as parents, put ourselves through this torture?
It’s because of this: for 5/10 minutes out of the entire experience – you do get that moment that you envisioned. That picture-perfect moment. That peaceful moment.
And you realise that despite the frustration and the not-seeming-to-get-any-of-it-right you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, with anyone else. That despite parenting being on the wtf-side of challenging – there are not enough tantrums in the world to ever make you love that little terrorist any less.