From Pub Crawling to Park Crawling: Life After Kids

Three parks in three hours. This is what life becomes after you have kids. Lame.

Forget the good old-fashioned pub crawl on a sunny Saturday afternoon, you’ll be dragging your cagey kids and your tired sorry ass from playground to playground at stupid o’clock instead, when it feels like all the other lucky bastards you know are still wrapped in their doona and fantasising about their first coffee.

I know this because it is exactly what I did on Saturday.

Weekends as a parent now involve being woken up at 5am and running interference with the two kids while my husband enjoys his turn for a Super-Mega Weekend Sleep-In!!™ (8:00am), whilst simultaneously racing around doing three hours of housework so I can clear a pathway to the front door before the tidal wave of plastic crap closes in on itself again. It’s as much fun as it sounds, which is close to zero.

And all of that before we even leave the house.

Pre-kids, a typical weekend could involve getting home at 5am after a big Friday night out, collapsing into bed worse for wear and still tipsy, rising some time after midday, shuffling into the shower and throwing some clean clothes on before meandering down to the beer garden for “hair of the dog” and a long, lazy afternoon with nothing much to do except power through that hangover by chain-smoking and drinking beer. The tranquility of the afternoon was only broken by the occasional stroll to another licensed venue for a change of scenery, especially if some snooty parent decided to bring their noisy little brats to the pub. Selfish, latte-sipping assholes. How dare they inflict their annoying spawn on me in an adult venue.

Nowadays I’m the one up early and sober to take my noisy little brats out park crawling.

It’s probably sacrilegious to admit, but parks bore the shit out of me. My husband, on the other hand, seems to love them. He is “that” guy. You know the one. The slightly embarrassing middle-aged man clambering to the top of the spiral slide (with or without the kids), gliding on the flying foxes, hanging upside down from the monkey bars and racing pint-sized todders to the toilet blocks. I am the woman on the other side of the park looking like I’d rather be somewhere else, shuffling around disconsolately with a bored expression on my face and pretending that I don’t know the 40 year-old man waiting patiently in line for his turn on the slide.

Worlds apart in so many ways, the only thing my pub and park crawling experiences typically have in common is that at some stage a young male in my company will nonchalantly drop trou and piss in the middle of a public park because he can’t make it to the toilets in time. Toddler or intoxicated adult, either way it’s a terribly embarrassing social faux-pas and I cringe at my guilt-by-association with the public urinator, refusing to make eye contact with any poorly-timed passers by.

After our park crawl on Saturday had finished we met with friends for lunch at a nearby hotel afterwards. It was a gorgeous, ramshackle old pub with several generous outdoor tables to stretch out at. Back in my life pre-kids I’d be settling in for a long afternoon in the sun with a new packet of cigarettes, a steady stream of good conversation, free-flowing liquid refreshment and no other obligations for the day. It was one of my favourite things to do. Down a schooner and shoot the breeze.

Instead, I had one lonely light beer and stared with misty-eyed envy at the young, childless twenty-somethings on the other side of the beer garden, as they took it in turns to shout numerous rounds of ice cold ale. They looked happy, relaxed, carefree. One of them was even wearing a beret, and there was no annoying child around to pull it off his head and jeer at him with snot-nosed arrogance. I, on the other hand, was sitting next to a cranky 14 month old in a high chair who grizzled loudly the entire way through lunch and then spent the bulk of his unrestrained time trying to crawl out into the car park, while his older brother worked on the three core inter-personal skills of “Interrupt”, “Whine” and “Interject”. Relaxing, it was not.

Park crawling and pub lunches with kids. To be honest, I think I’d rather sleep off one big-ass mofo of a hangover.

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