A super-fun friend recently visited New York with her newborn.
She emailed: “Meet in Central Park for a kids’ picnic at 2:30.”
She saw Pottery Barn picnic photo shoot (PBPPS).
I saw hell.
Dear super-fun friend,
Let me enumerate the ways this picnic is utterly inconvenient for everyone else with kids:
1. Timing – Your child is a house plant who sleeps all day long. We, the toddler-encumbered, schedule our sanity around naps. You’ve asked us to schlep DURING PRIME NAPPING HOURS to come coo at your kiddo. Though your kid might not let you get 8 hours of beauty sleep, mine will turn the remainder of my day into tantrum hell. That’s worse than sleep-deprivation.
2. Enclosure – I know urban playgrounds are hell for those who don’t rely on them for socializing, herding, and sippin’ on gin-in-juice. There’s no grassy knoll for pretentious picnicking. But those gates spell the difference between fun and fury. Toddlers don’t do open-space in NYC. They do caged asphalt.
3. Sweat – If I choose to sit for three consecutive minutes to chat and chew, both of my children will have scrambled in opposite directions and I’ll have lost one, entirely. (Preferably the younger one.)
So while you glamorously nibble watermelon cubes, I will frantically corral cats, er…kids. I will sweat through my shirt (read: pants; read: swamp ass). They will squeal gleefully as I carry them back to the picnic blanket. My faux smile will ooze daggers dipped in rabies.
4. Impossible to finish a sentence, let alone conver…just a sec…
So what were you saying? Uh-huh. Oh, that’s so…oops, sorry. Hold on.
Soooo…how’s parenthood? He’s so cute. Is he slee…oh, wait. Sorry.
Yeah, it’s SOOOO funny how my boys keep running away from me.
No, please. Don’t get up and help. Just sit and sunbathe. So you were saying? Oh, wait. Just a second.
Upon my next return with wriggling children, you’ll have moved on to “my favorite bars in the West Village have changed soooo much since we last bar-hopped in Manhattan…”
5. Malnourishment – At this PBPPS, my children refuse everything I packed: salads of quinoa, kale, and tree bark. Instead, they will scream for the Lay’s on strangers’ blankets. You’ll think you’re doing me a favor by handing over your veggie straw bullshit chips. Just then, inexplicably, dairy demons will carry messages on the wind from food carts: “Ice cream. Ice cream.” My kids will spontaneously dissolve into screams for ice cream. I will capitulate. And I blame you.
6. Perfect blanket – Don’t fret about having the picture-perfect blanket. My kids will tramp through mud, trip over the edge and fall grubby-hand-first into your Whole Foods bento box of sushi, then scream after wasabi-infused soy sauce splashes in their face.
7. Hangers-on who looooooove kids – All those other friends you’ve invited to enjoy the picnic festivities? The ones who want to experience the cuteness of a PBPPS because they looooooove kids? Like old men sitting in rockers on a porch, they will just sit there. No one will chase, wrestle, or tickle. They will just watch and marvel, “I don’t know how you do it. I mean, I loooooove kids, but…”
8. Capitulation – Eventually, I give a phone to one kid, a tablet to the other, so that I can share seven friggin’ minutes of adult conversation. At this time you will decide your house plant (newborn) needs to sleep (more). I will then remove aforementioned technological babysitters from my children and depart this delightful picnic with two screaming terrors in tow.
9. Subway rush-hour hell – Your PBPPS picnic is convenient for you because your kid lays there. You’re the one with the newborn, so everyone thinks you need to be coddled. BUT YOU’RE THE MOBILE ONE! You can easily do stairs and subways and taxis. Meanwhile, I will have to navigate a go-kart through RUSH HOUR. The kids will be malnourished and melt-down-exhausted. Crabby strap-hangers will sneer at the space my double stroller commands in a crowded subway car. And when I apologize, they’ll smile insincerely, saying, “Oh, no. It’s totally fine.”
So, yeah. I just can’t WAIT for this picnic. It’ll be so fun. Because life with toddlers is just that: fun.
Like a Pottery Barn catalog.