One time I was at a playground with my young sons and a woman came striding up, briskly pushing a jogging stroller. She stopped, ordered her kid to hop out, and proceeded to do some stretches. Then she clapped her hands together and shouted, “Go run around! There’s another kid – chase him! Go! Go! Go! Move it!” She may have had a whistle around her neck and a stopwatch, or maybe I imagined that.
Regardless, this woman managed to completely suck the fun out of an afternoon at the playground within seconds. Here are some sure-fire tips for following in her footsteps and ruining time with your family:
1) Call it “quality time.” Not hanging out, not spending the day together, but Quality Time with a capital QT. This will infuse it with extra angst and expectations. Also, be sure to announce piously to everyone you meet that on Sunday you’re spending Quality Time with your family. You should post it on Facebook and Instagram it, too.
2) Cite studies proclaiming its importance. Quote statistics on how much outdoor time children should get per day, and how many teen pregnancies and drug addictions can be prevented by regular family dinners, and how technology is ruining our society. Bonus points for pulling out some pie-charts showing how little vacation time Americans get compared to other countries.
3) Make your expectations sky-high. For instance, insist on getting the perfect snapshot for your Easter e-newsletter with all of your family members in matching pastel outfits. That way when your son refuses to wear anything but ripped jeans and an Angry Birds T-shirt and the tulips aren’t blooming yet, your day will be ruined.
4) Set strict guidelines and refuse to alter them. You MUST go that ONE particular park at the EXACT time of day you had in mind. There’s traffic and it’s a little chilly and the kids would rather play Legos at home? No way! Mom has planned Quality Time at the park. Hup, two!
5) Tell your family they’re doing it wrong. No, no! Come ON, guys, we didn’t come here to play tag or sword-fight with sticks. We came here to get our allotted outdoor time and tip-toe through the tulips in nice clothes you can’t get dirty and make everyone think we’re the perfect family! What is WRONG with you?!
In NO WAY have I EVER committed any of these heinous Momzilla acts on my lovely family. We just happen to enjoy every moment of leisure time together, which we choose to spend on enriching activities we find mutually agreeable. Except for when those freakin’ tulips and my crazy kids ruin everything…
READ O’ THE DAY: As a “Modern Family” fan, and also a person who had to read Marshall McLuhan’s book in grad school, I found this 2011 NYT article hugely interesting. I can honestly say I never noticed all the technology, or thought about who was filming the “mockumentary.” Did you?