How to Take Your Toddler to the Amusement Park: A Mother’s Guide

Wherefore art thou, Monk-Monk?

I’ve been writing Ramshackle Glam for nearly ten whole years – which means that there is a LOT of good stuff hanging out in my archives. So each Friday, we’ll be doing a little throwback to one of my personal favorites. This week’s is by Erin Williams, the coauthor of The Big Activity Book For Anxious People, and the author of a stunning new graphic memoir, Commute

by Erin Williams

There are two types of parent in my house: the type that likes to lay around and convince the 16-month-old to play nicely with legos while Daddy listens to records and checks subreddits, and the type that likes to get the hell out of the house and go do something fun even if said “fun thing” involves 40 minutes in the car and a lot of forced enthusiastic yelling and hand-waving. (Said two types of parent have a lot of “talks” about “chilling out,” which is what men call it when women want to do things that involve movement but not sex, or leaving the house but not to go shopping at GameStop.)

On Sunday I won the battle, saddled myself with an 18-ton backpack full of “essentials” (which used to mean things like a wallet or a phone but now means pouches of Strawberry-Wow Applesauce Extreme and a small stuffed monkey with alopecia), packed my husband and toddler into the car, and headed for the Amusement Park (after a detour to GameStop).

Here are my tips for taking a toddler to the Amusement Park, just in case you like self-inflicted torture, too.

1. Arrive at the busiest time of day, so you can park your car in what you hope is an actual spot, in aisle 674, located in a distant galaxy several light years from the park’s entrance. Avoid several dads in minivans willing to risk life and limb to get a spot ten feet closer to the entrance than any other car, since this is obviously the World National Competition of Being the Best Parker and the prize is 1 million dollars and somehow you were not notified. When you get to the entrance, wait in line for at least 30 minutes to gain admittance. Ensure it is 100 degrees outside. Remain chipper.

2. Once inside the park, locate “Kiddyland,” which is the circle of hell where an infinite number of toddlers are told to patiently wait in line right before they do the most exciting thing ever. Take lots of iPhone photos of your daughter riding the “Antique Cars,” a carousel with cars instead of horses that she spends 10 minutes waiting for and 45 seconds riding. She should look terrified and vaguely nauseous in each photo, and never make eye contact with you or the camera.

3. Feed your toddler a balanced dinner of buttered popcorn, french fries, and vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles. This should cost $22 and provide no nutritional value. She will be hungry again in one hour, which is when you get to the car and are about to drive home and have no snacks.

4. While your husband waits in line at Paninis’N’Wraps for a second Bud Light, your toddler should definitely fling her favorite stuffed animal – undoubtedly the one and only true comfort in her life, a balding, midget monkey with velcro vines permanently attached to his hands named “Monk Monk” – out of her stroller. Don’t notice until Monk Monk is gone forever. “Ruin Father’s Day” by “freaking out” (this is what men call it when a woman gets upset about anything). Frantically call around to stores and check Amazon for replacement Monk Monks in a black hole of cell service. Understand deep in your psyche that all of your constant, nagging fears have just been realized: you are definitely a terrible mother. Tell your toddler, who does not understand language yet, that Monk Monk caught a flight to Costa Rica to see his Dad in the jungle and won’t be back until Tuesday, which is how long it will take Amazon to overnight another one. Make a mental note of this as the root of your child’s future deep-seated abandonment issues. Open a savings account to pay for decades of inevitable psychiatry bills.

5. Head back to the car, hoping you will be able to walk that far before winter comes.

6. Realize how lucky your daughter is to have a mom who chooses to put herself through all this on a Sunday in the name of fun. She’s lucky to have a Mom who really understands the value of a Costa Rican (maybe) monkey who cannot let go of those velcro vines. Feel better. Blast some free jazz on the ride home and hog all the AC vents, because you deserve them, because you are a wonderful mom, even if you didn’t win the 1 million dollar parking prize.

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