If Dante lived today and wrote his famous literary tome Inferno from the perspective of a parent, the eternal punishments doled out in his nine circles of hell might look something like this:
1. Cutting out an endless pile of BoxTops. If I forget and throw one away I feel guilty, convinced someone at my son’s school will go without a pencil because of me.
Our former school expected you to turn in your BoxTops neatly cut out and taped to special sheets in groups of ten. Most of mine end up unceremoniously ripped from their boxes then left to languish on top of the microwave until the pile gets so big it topples onto the floor. Then the dog tries to eat them because they smell like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
2. Begging your friends to buy something from your kid’s school fundraiser. Nothing makes you feel like a shill more than asking your friends to buy crap they don’t need with money they don’t want to spend, so little Rickie can go on a class trip to the petting zoo.
3. Endlessly circling the elementary school parking lot at pick-up time. Nowhere on earth is there more crazy in one place than the school parking lot at 3 pm. They unapologetically cut you off, flip you off, blow by you at 45 mph and back over your kid so they can get little Suzie to Hip-hop dance class on time. Then there’s always that one brilliant parent who parks their car where they shouldn’t, preventing the rest of us from even getting into the parking lot.
4. Listening to decode-able books read out loud. Decode-able books have plots more predictable than Harlequin romance novels and sentences so lifeless that they put someone who just drank a latte with a quadruple shot of espresso to sleep. Homeland security should make terror suspects listen to decode-able books over and over. Except it’s so inhumane I’m sure the UN considers it right up there with water-boarding.
5. Potty training toddlers. Oh, the cleaning up of endless accidents. The blank stares they give you when you ask them why they didn’t use the potty. There is nothing more frustrating, confounding, confusing and gross. When you’re in the thick of it potty training it does actually feel like an eternity.
6. An eternity spent sitting in the high school auditorium listening to the fifth grade band concert. Its it too flat? Is it too sharp? Is it too slow? Are the trumpets not keeping up with the flutes? Who knows. But it’s out of tune and sounds like they’re slowly killing a kennel full of cats.
7. An eternity spent sitting in the high school auditorium listening to the fourth grade recorder concert. Worse than the fifth grade band concert, because recorders aren’t even real instruments. They’re plastic toys that make noise. If your kid’s grandparents gave them one for Christmas, you’d accidentally throw it away with the wrapping paper.
8. Chuck E. Cheese. The noise. The terrible pizza. The terrible music. The screaming kids. The sweaty smell. The noise.
9. Watching Caillou on an endless loop. The only thing worse than real life whining is animated whining with a Canadian accent, eh?