10 Things That Piss Every Parent Off, Not Just You

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The other day I was sitting with a group of moms I didn’t know well in the waiting area of our daughters’ gymnastics studio. Class was about to end and one of the women in the group sighed, grabbed her purse, and muttered, “Class is almost over. Now the battle begins.” She then shared with us that she almost didn’t enroll her daughter in this particular class because there are unhealthy snacks for purchase right near the exit. There’s no way to get out of the studio without passing the snacks. She equated the weekly how-do-I-get-out-of-here-without-buying-my-kid-pop-tarts showdown with doing battle.

As she got up, each mom at the table nodded in agreement. I breathed a sigh of relief. For the six months my daughter has been enrolled in the class, I, too, have dreaded our exit. I’ve dreaded the snack battle. I’ve mentally cursed the gymnastics studio for even having the snacks on hand. At the very least, I’ve wished they could place them elsewhere, giving parents who don’t want to buy an unhealthy snack a chance to get out of the studio without having to choose between battling their kid and buying junk food.

I realized then that I’m not alone in my daily annoyances. There are those little things that other parents, classes, and schools could do to make our lives as parents just a tiny bit easier. I’m not saying it’s their job. I’m just saying it would be nice.

So if you’re bothered, you’re not alone. I’m not embarrassed to admit these things wind me up. You?

1. Unhealthy snacks sold at the dance/gymnastics studio. I try not to be the food police with my kids; however, when I take them to a class that’s supposed to inspire health and fitness, it feels ironic and somewhat inappropriate to have a snack bar filled with junk. Sure, I don’t have to buy my kid one of those snacks. But since they’re always placed right by the exit, there’s no way to exit without a showdown or giving in. Both could be avoided if the studio would move the snacks, or provide healthier choices.

2. Parent-teacher conferences scheduled for the same week as a national holiday. I love to spend time with my kids as much as the next gal, but I also have to work. Whenever there is a three-day weekend and my kid’s school also schedules a short day, day off, or parents need to be at school event the same week, I grind my teeth. Turns out, I’m not the only one.

3. Halloween — every time it falls on a school night. Every parent knows that the mecca of little kid holidays is Halloween. My kids talk about Halloween for 364 days a year starting on November 1. Maybe yours do, too. But, Halloween on a school night is a bit of a buzzkill and leads to some seriously tired and cranky kids the next morning.

4. Strangers who offer my kids candy, without asking my permission first. I personally never offer anyone’s child food or treats without first asking the parent if that’s okay. But countless times, a well-meaning passerby will hand my kid some random candy. It’s not just that I try to limit my kid’s candy intake, but those well-intended strangers seem to always give my kids something they can choke on. Maybe just don’t offer, even if you mean well.

5. The parent who cuts the carpool line. I don’t think there’s a parent in the world that isn’t always running late and in need of more time in her day, but there’s always one parent at school who thinks she is the only one. So she cuts the carpool line. The first time, all is forgiven. We’ve all missed the turn after all. But when you realize the same car cuts the line every day, it winds you up. And no one says a word because we all want to make nice because our kids go to school together. But parents are secretly seething every time they see the same car cut the line. I know I am.

6. Strangers who get offended when my kids refuse to hug them. For whatever reason, grown-ups love to ask kids for hugs as if the kid is a tiny little celebrity. But since kids are human, and humans don’t always want to hug random people they meet in a restaurant or grocery store, sometimes the kid says no. Saying no to hugging a stranger doesn’t make a kid rude. In fact, it means the child has some sense of boundaries and personal space.

7. Sick kids at school. Selfishly, I hate seeing a sick kid from my kid’s class trudging in to school because I know there’s a good chance my kid will get what that kid has. School is also no place for a sick kid, nor is it fair to the teachers to put them in charge of nursing a kid who should probably be at home in bed. It’s inconvenient for working parents, but school is for healthy kids. Even when it’s inconvenient for mom and dad.

8. People who are judgy about a child’s public tantrum. If you’ve ever endured a child’s tantrum (I have!), you know there is very little a parent can do to end or shorten a child’s outburst. Most kids who have a tantrum can’t regulate their emotions or are tired, but there are those judgy strangers who think a kid having a tantrum is a bad egg or a brat. Having been the mom in public who has had to patiently wait while my kid finished melting down, I can tell you that there’s no need to judge a parent or child mid-tantrum. Offer to help if you’re going to do anything.

9. Single friends who say, “You’re not the same since you’ve had kids!” I have fewer single friends now than when I first had kids, but I always hated when the friends without kids would comment on how much I’d changed since having a kid. Or worse yet, they’d complain that I wasn’t available to them as often as I was pre-kids. Two kids came out of my uterus. So no, I’m not the same. And yes, I have less time.

10. The dad filming the school concert with a giant iPad — and blocking everyone’s view. Despite every child’s performance being filmed by the school or studio, there’s always at least one parent who wants to capture it on video. But instead of politely crouching low in the front or on the side of the auditorium, some parent will hold up a giant iPad to video the show. The screen will be bigger than some of the children and everyone behind will miss a good portion of the show.

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Photo: Getty