Top 10 Events in the Parental Olympics: Part 2
It's time to continue the countdown of the Top 10 Events in the Parental Olympics!
Part I (including the introuduction) can be found here.
8. Hiding Food
You’re a human with real needs. And although nutritionists and psychiatrists may not be completely on-board with it, it’s pretty much a fact that cravings for your sweet of choice are most definitely a need. It’s also one that your children are liable to manipulate for their own benefit if they catch wind of the fact that your cookies/ice cream/candy/Little Debbies are in the buggy/house/your mouth. But how can you, good, needy parent, fill your absolutely legitimate need without the miniature robber barons taking their cut?
This is a three-part event, a true triathlon. You must purchase, store, and then eat your delectation of choice all without detection. Because if they so much as suspect that there is a package of Famous-Amos Chocolate Chip cookies within a 500-foot radius of the house, let alone find out that it’s behind the twin-silos of Quick Oats on the second-level of the pantry, the game is up.
The obvious route here is to just wait until bedtime, right? Riiiight. But good luck, since science has shown that children feel an 500% increase in the need to get out of bed to get a drink/pee/ask about monsters whenever parents try and use bedtime as a cover for visiting their secret stash of sweets. You think Caillou is whiny? Just wait until your three year-old sees you eating an Oatmeal Crème Pie that he didn’t know existed until he caught you eating it.
The key to success here is having multiple stash-spots and rotating your cookies between them and then being a master of distraction. Don’t be afraid to rat out your spouse’s secret pile of Reese’s in order to move your goods or sneak in a bite. There’s only room for one on the gold medal stand.
7. Reading Books
What’s this? you’re thinking. I know how to read. Yes, but do you know how to read to children? There’s a difference. Children don’t always want you to read the book they brought you, sometimes they want you to read something else entirely, like an alternate-reality version of Thomas the Train, complete with wormholes and time travel. Sometimes they bring you 1-2-3 Hippo, but want you to “read” the book’s subtext about giraffes and their eating disorders.
Reading to little kids is never a matter of just accurately pronouncing the words on the pages. It’s about satisfying the little person squirming into your lap calling for “boooooooooo!” Just because he brings you “Curious George” doesn’t mean he wants you to read it as written, otherwise he wouldn’t turn the page before you finished reading “Curi-”. To successfully “read” the book you have to alter your pace and rhythm and the book’s actual content at a moment’s notice, sometimes more than once in a sitting. This is not a science; this is art and gambling in one potent mix.
The gold medal may not go to the most prepared contestant, or even the contestant with the quickest mind. It will go to the one whose temperament, in the moment, most closely matches that of the child. If they don’t care, you can’t either. And if they do, you’d better be able to give those 1-2-3 Hippos some really engrossing backstories.
6. The Toy Minefield Challenge
It’s simple, really, the floor is littered with toys of all shapes, sizes, and franchise-tie-ins and you have to carry two very full, very hot mugs of coffee across it lest your spouse start the show without you.
It’s simple, really, the floor is…but you know all this.
The fun thing about this is that you’re not penalized for stepping on toys. You’re penalized for a) spilling coffee, b) using too much time, and c) yelping like a whipped puppy. Anyone of these things could single-handedly ruin the impromptu, homebound date night with your spouse and bring disaster upon your head.
The person with the highest-tolerance for pain and/or the most heavily-calloused feet will be the favorite to win gold here. But there’s always the rogue noise-making toy in the mix that could ruin even the most steel-footed parent.
Babies and toddlers, by and large, do not speak English. Even when they do, they don’t. For instance, any and all female action-figures are “Mama,” if you ask my 18-month old. Rey from Star Wars? Mama. Wonder Woman? Mama. Anna from Frozen? Also Mama. Ursula from Little Mermaid? I’m not at liberty to say. The point is, babies and toddlers communicate, but it requires interpretation to understand them.
It’s just the parent, a toddler, a non-distinct request, and a room full of options. It’s up to the competitor to use non-verbal clues given by the toddler to interpret the request and offer the correct form of pacification. Maybe they want a toy, or a book, or a snack. Maybe they want a hug, or a kiss, or a drink of milk song. Maybe they don’t want anything and it’s all an elaborate mind-game.
This is a “who can last the longest” type of challenge. If the toddler loses their cool and yells, you’re out. IF they cry, you’re out. If you cry, you’re out. Curl up on the couch in the fetal position sobbing “I don’t know what you want! What the heck is a ‘ba-ba-doo’?!”, and you’re also out. The contestant with the longest uninterrupted stretch of child interpretation/pacification wins.
The Car Seat Swap