” In San Sebastian, Spain, my soon-to-be husband and I drank cold beers at an outdoor cafe, watching children speed through an open square on scooters and bicycles, yelling as their parents drank nearby. ‘ This is what it’ll be like when we have kids, ‘ I thought.
I was wrong – so very, very wrong. Because in Los Angeles, and in the United States in general, we don’t have gorgeous town squares where parents sip beer and nibble on Manchego and jamon iberico while their offspring frolic nearby. We have Gymboree and Jump ’n Jammin, corporate kiddie warehouses designed to amuse screeching, pushing, crying children and to incite suicidal ideation in their parents. That’s what you see clouding the faces of those parents at The Little Gym and Pump It Up, standing around awkwardly in their fucking socks with their hands stuffed in their pockets. They’re thinking about death’s sweet embrace, and the alternative: spending the balance of their days on Earth watching kids shove each other in some padded, primary-colored purgatory.
And what protects most of us from such dark thoughts? Lager. Vodka. Pilsner. Tequila. But do they dispense alcohol at these godforsaken amusement centers? Of course not. Because just as American children are not meant to cartwheel through non-commercial public spaces paved with unfriendly cobblestones, troublingly devoid of Apple stores and Panda Expresses, American parents are not meant to pour alcohol down their throats in the company of children. As a result, American parents rarely have the chance to enjoy themselves in adult ways, away from home, with loose talk and salty cured meats and booze in the mix. If your kids are there and you don’t feel demeaned and edgy, there’s something wrong. If you’re not agitated and overwhelmed by the pointlessness of human existence, if your hair looks combed and you’re still wearing your shoes and you’re making eye contact with another adult who isn’t talking about bad teachers and potty mishaps, if your ears aren’t ringing and you don’t have the urge to strangle someone? You’re a shitty parent, basically.