The 5 Worst Things to Do in the Summer With Your Kids
If you've been on the internet lately -- and guess what, you're on the internet right now! -- then you've undoubtedly seen all those lists suggesting fun things you can do with your kids in the summer. Well, let me be the first to say, "Bah, humbug!" to that. Have you tried some of these summer activities with kids? Well, I have, and none of us had any fun. Or at least, I didn't. Lucky for you, though, I survived, because now I'm here to warn you against ever attempting them with your own kids. Here were my five absolute least favorite summer activities with kids.
1. The beach. Pools are summer's greatest invention. You get hot, they cool you off. Done. I love every pool, from the plastic Thomas the Train and Disney Princess pools we have in our backyard to the high-tech wave pools at the water park. You know what's not as fun as a wave pool, though? Actual waves. Oh, sure, kids don't know the difference, until the ocean sucks them under and -- you can only pray as they disappear from your sight -- spits them back out a minute or two later, bruised from the seashells that have been clattering up against their skull while they struggled to breathe. The only thing worse than the ocean is the hot coal walk across scorching sand that it takes to get there. And the sunburn you inevitably leave with. And heatstroke. And seagulls. And digging sand out from between your toes for weeks afterward. And telling your kids over and over for the rest of the summer, "No! No! No! We are NOT going back to the beach!"
2. The playground. Before I can take my kids to the pool, I have to slather them with sunblock, pack a snack and fill their sippy cups with ice water. When they want to go to the playground, I have to do all these same things... but there's no pool to jump into when we get there. Instead, I get soaked with sweat, and they scream in agony as the skillet-hot slide burns their exposed legs. Then, inevitably, they cry some more when I won't let them go back on it. I try to explain that it's not fun if you can hear the sound of your flesh sizzling and hey, wouldn't it be nice if we went home and played with Play-Doh in our air conditioned house instead?
3. Amusement parks. My kids, like a lot of kids, are obsessed with roller coasters. Obsessed. They watch videos of them on YouTube. They can name the latest high tech flippy-flingy coasters in Japan which I can't even pronounce. What they can't do, however, is ride them. They won't be tall enough for years. Believe me, I know their pain, because I was well into puberty before I was able to go on anything more thrilling than bumper cars. So theme parks are a constant source of tears and tantrums for my family. It breaks my heart every time my kids stand up against that measuring stick and the attendant shakes his head no, or when they struggle on their tiptoes to reach as high as the clown's hand. So we go on the carousel for the 5th time instead. Big deal. They have one of those at the mall.
4. Summer movies. I took my kids to see “Despicable Me 2” the other day. The movie was cute, and the kids liked it. The air conditioning was great, and the popcorn was fine. Overall, not a bad way to spend a steamy summer afternoon. The big catch, however, was the price. Between tickets, snacks and parking for the three of us, we spent over $40, and this was at a matinee on “Discount Tuesday”. Compare this to the day before, when we watched the first “Despicable Me” On Demand. (Hey, we didn't want to go into the sequel unprepared.) The movie cost $3, plus $1.99 for the popcorn from Trader Joe's, and I was actually able to get some work done around the house while the kids watched it. Plus, none of us had to sit through the trailer for R.I.P.D., a PG-13 explosion-fest that the theater promoted before the kiddie cartoon. Thanks, multiplex. We're gonna skip that one.
5. The zoo. Nowhere will you feel more mocked for your choice of summer activity than at the zoo. Go to the zoo in the fall or the spring, and you can give your kids a fun glimpse of the animal kingdom at its most exciting. If you're lucky, you may even see some monkeys smearing their poop on the walls. But go in the summer, and all you see are a bunch of sleeping creatures hiding in whatever shade their keepers provide them. Why? Because these supposedly lesser species are smart enough to realize what you couldn't -- that it's too freaking hot to be outside on a day like this. If you really need to see animals in the summer, find a nice, air-conditioned aquarium. (On a side note, though, fish are lame.) Or better yet, just stay home and let your kids go stir crazy until they're smearing their own poop on the walls. Hey, at least it's free.