This past weekend, my children’s school hosted its annual carnival, an event that kids eagerly anticipate and adults dread in equal measure. Held on a Friday evening in early spring, carnival has all of the elements that get your adrenaline going: throngs of excited kids and weary adults, a sweltering gymnasium transformed with games, face painting, and hair styling stations, and hallways crammed with more games and prizes. Oh, and there’s popcorn and cotton candy too.

Since I helped with the fundraising side of the event this year, I was removed from most of the action, tucked away in the library with guests who wandered in to peruse silent auction items. By carnival standards, this relative quiet was a luxury, and I felt slightly guilty thinking of my husband navigating the busy hallways with our first grader. From time to time, they came by to visit me so that our daughter could proudly display her latest collection of prizes. Our third grader also stopped by my table periodically, her cheeks flushed with warmth and her tongue blue from the cotton candy she’d been enjoying.

As I gazed through the library’s glass walls, watching swirls of people go by, I had no doubt that a fair number of adults at the event were, at that moment, thinking wistfully of a nice glass of Pinot Noir, a quiet living room, and a relaxed date with their DVR.

Carnival is a wonderful event that helps my kids’ school a great deal, so I’m all for it. However, this event confirmed one rather irksome aspect of parenting: there’s a decent chance that the things your kids love will drive you crazy. And ironically, these are the precise things that you probably went bananas for when you were their age.

To elaborate…

THINGS MY KIDS LOVE THAT MAKE ME WANT TO STICK A FORK IN MY EYES (*not an exhaustive list):

  • Glitter.
  • Birthday parties that feature bouncy houses.
  • Waking up at the crack of dawn on weekend and holiday mornings.
  • Cotton candy, caramel corn, or any sticky snack.
  • Intricate toys with hundreds of tiny parts that require several hours of adult supervision to build.
  • Any craft involving felt, paint, or a glue gun.
  • Slime. It’s never as easy to make as it appears, and it gets everywhere, except on washable surfaces.
  • Play-Doh.
  • Did I mention slime?
  • YouTube Kids, especially those blasted surprise egg videos and virtually ANY video featuring the grating voice of CookieSwirlC. (Note: I’m no dictionary expert, but I’m pretty sure “CookieSwirlC” can accurately be used as a synonym for “irritating.”)
  • Mud. Playing with it, jumping in it, taking baths in it, and tracking it into the house.
  • Screaming at the top of one’s lungs for no special reason.
  • Oh, also slime.
  • Cheap plastic trinkets, particularly those with sharper edges. After approximately thirty-four seconds of play, these toys are forgotten and tend to wind up in various places throughout the house, such as beneath one’s bare feet on a cold winter morning.

Notwithstanding all of the above…seriously, kids, it always makes me smile to see you having fun. But sometimes, it would be cool if, you know, you could recognize and appreciate that a lot of your favorite things are particularly challenging for your parents to tolerate, but that we do so without (too much) hesitation because we love you.

Ok?? Thanks!

Hey, if you have children of your own someday, I’ll promise I’ll come by to visit you and bring you coffee and a nice bottle of wine.

And a few buckets of slime for the grandkids.

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