Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Hell Known as Texas

The boys and I just got back from a solid two month stint visiting family in Indiana, where temps generally hovered around 60 degrees, with the occasional 75 to 80 degree spike. It was quintessential spring weather. It was temperate.  It was pleasant. It was lovely.

It was bullshit.

Why? Because it pretty much made me forget how horrific Texas “springs” and summers are. I put “spring” in quotes, because there aren’t really ‘seasons’ here. I use singular quotes around ‘seasons’ because I’m actually using my fingers to make air quotes as I write this, and I’m only using one finger on each hand.

Guess which one.

Eff you, Texas climate. Basically this hell-hole of a place consists of the following ‘seasons’: Summer I, Summer II, Summer III, and Abnormally Warm Spring.

And it’s not just the heat that sucks more than my youngest does on his two favorite fingers.
Thanks, Mom. You could have at least cropped out Minnie Mouse.

It’s the freaking humidity, too. I thought I was through with sauna-esque living when we left the secondary Hell that is Georgia. Seriously, when I told people we were moving from Georgia to Texas, I received a ton of encouraging responses:

“Oh, Texas is SO much nicer than Georgia.” (For the record, the only thing I can honestly say that Texas has over Georgia in the pleasantness department is a lack of cockroaches. At least where we’re living. Can’t say the same for the folks across the street. I’ve seen pest control dudes over there decked out in all their Ghostbuster glory. I guess we lucked out.)

“You’ll like it there.” (This only makes sense to me if the vague pronoun “it” is referring to chocolate. I like chocolate everywhere.)

“Texas is hot, but it’s dry heat.” (More on this later.)

“It’s typically not very sticky.” (Again, with this ambiguous “it” shit. Here, “it” must be a reference to baby powder. Baby powder is never sticky. In fact, it is, like, the anti-sticky.) (EXCEPT MAYBE IN TEXAS.) (Again, more on this later.)

“Texas is AWESOME!” (This person was clearly on something. Or his brain was swelling from the never-spoken-of-Texas-humidity, causing him to blurt out absolute poppycock. Or the Texas Mafia had taken his precious cowboy hat hostage and was blackmailing him into uttering such ridiculous lies.)

Anyway, where the hell is all this “dry heat” people have been talking about? The only thing dry here at the present moment is my throat. From screaming. About the freaking humidity. I mean, it’s still May, and the boys and I pretty much melted on our run yesterday morning. When we left the house around 9:30, the humidity was at 96%. On most grading scales, that’s a measly two points away from an A+ in the subject of unbearably oppressive moisture. I honestly think I may have suffered a little pulmonary edema while we were doing our final hill repeat.

Oh, and to top it off, the temp hit somewhere between 85° and 88°. Which doesn’t sound horrendous, but paired with the aforementioned humidity level, it felt like 70238574.6°.

We are living in Hell.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including my trademark affinity for hyperbole.

So, in honor of the Army’s unjust dictatorship decision to send us to Texas, subjecting us to its merciless heat tsunamis (the term “wave” just don’t cut it here), I’ve decided to compose a list of things that are hotter than a Texas summer:

1. The sun.

2. Liquid tantalum hafnium carbide, a refractory compound with a melting point of 4488 K (7618.73° F).

3. Eating a bowl of Carolina Reaper Chile Peppers

4. Then shitting them out.

5. While sitting on a lit burner on a gas stovetop.

6. This building:

via Pixabay

7. An ant under a zoosadistic’s magnifying glass.

8. Falling asleep on a mound of fire ants directly in front of a zoosadistic with a giant magnifying glass.

9. Having sex with the Heat Miser.

10. In a furnace.

11. While using sulfuric acid as lube.

12. And a hollowed-out jalapeno as a condom.

13. Being the filling of a Ryan Gosling and Liam Hemsworth sandwich.

And here is a list of things that are more humid than a Texas summer:

1. The Pacific Ocean.

2. The Atlantic Ocean.

3. The Arctic Ocean.

4. The Indian Ocean.

5. The Southern Ocean.

6. Pretty much any body of water that is deep enough to allow total submersion of a human body.

And just to wrap it all up, here’s a list of things that are grosser than living in Texas in the summer:

1. Cockroaches.

via Pixabay
Yup, that’s it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go dry my hands before I crash my keyboard. I think my fingernails are sweating.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

17 Tactics to Prepare You for Raising Twin Toddlers

When I was taking care of newborn twins, I thought life was rough: double nursing, double diaper duty, double shots of espresso to mitigate the effects of double sleep deprivation. (Of course, the coffee came into play after I stopped breastfeeding. I'm pretty sure there's a mathematical equation of motherhood that goes something like this: x + y = z, where x is a set of twins, y is caffeine, and z is the strong desire to propel oneself off of the roof of a Babies 'R' Us. But, per my usual, I've strayed a bit off topic.).

So, back to the double babies thing: I took solace in the hope that once we were beyond the infant stage, things would get easier.

Turns out, I was doubly naive. Now my boys are toddlers, and I’m dealing with twice the tantrums, twice the amount of food on the floor, twice the stress of potty training, and the disadvantage of being double-teamed when they set their devilish little minds on pulling my pants down.

When you have twins, the “terrible twos” takes on a whole new meaning. It’s best to be prepared. If you’re currently expecting twins—or you already have a set on the brink of Toddlerhood—consider employing some of the following strategies in order to increase your chances of survival:

1. Invest in two 30lb bags of dirt. Strap one to your hip and drape the other one around your neck. Attempt to go about your daily activities. When you can no longer take the weight, open the bags and sprinkle the dirt all over your house.

2. Search Ebay for a replica of the medieval torture device known as “The Rack.” Purchase it, and use it at least twice a day to get used to the sensation of your limbs being ripped in opposite directions.

3. Attend a few professional wrestling matches. Pay particular attention to how the ref handles illegal moves. You’ll probably also want to study how he manages to avoid getting kicked, slapped, or hair-pulled during the fight. Actually, you may want to find him after the match and ask if he has any interest in moonlighting as a nanny.

4. Buy a couple of piranhas. Try brushing the teeth of one while keeping the other one from chewing on everything in sight, including your fingers.

5. Master the art of channel flipping. You’ll need mad skill when you’ve got one kid demanding Mickey Mouse while the other one is screaming for Curious George. If you really want to hone your craft, ask your husband to scream incessantly while throwing fruit snacks at you while you practice.

6. Practice opening a shampoo bottle in a torrential downpour. This makes for excellent bath time prep.

7. Learn how to cook two completely different meals at once. Make sure the (juice, sauce, smell) of Meal A doesn’t come anywhere near the components of Meal B. Then:

8. After taking the time to prepare two completely different (yet equally time-consuming) meals, throw them on the floor. You might as well determine the most efficient cleanup method now, while you still have some semblance of your mental faculties about you.

9. Start streaming TLC’s Extreme Couponing on Netflix ASAP. Toddlers can eat A LOT, and even if you’re still nursing (God bless you), your free boob juice won’t be enough to satisfy all of their nutritional needs, or their propensity for overpriced, processed crap. Fifty cents off a bag of fishy crackers can really add up: After your 146,224th bag, you’ll have saved enough to send them both to a four-year public college. AND YOU WILL WANT TO SEND THEM AWAY TO COLLEGE.

(Disclaimer: Okay, so you'll probably miss them when they're gone, but it's hard to think about the big picture while one of them is standing on your kneecap, and the other one is yanking out your arm hairs.)

But at least I have all my arm hair and won't be needing a knee replacement in the foreseeable future.
[via memegenerator]

10. Borrow a couple of puppies from the pound. Give them each an espresso. Then put them together in a tiny, enclosed space, and attempt to get them both to pee in a pot.

11. Revisit one of your favorite childhood activities. Remember monkey in the middle? Find some friends  or, even better, fellow twin- mothers) and get a game going. You’ll be “playing” this a lot with your kids, with basically anything you love and/or need serving as the “ball.” This may include, but is not limited to, the following: your car keys, your cell phone, anything edible, and your sanity.

12. Buy noise-cancelling headphones and try to watch a movie while wearing them. Toddlers are freaking loud. Two toddlers are twice as freaking loud. Subtitles are the new black.

13. Engage the parking brake on your double stroller and push it through a cramped, heavily-populated area. This is excellent practice for when you’ll have to push your kids around the narrow aisles of crowded stores in those double-passenger shopping carts shaped like racecars that they have at places like Home Depot and particularly sadistic grocery stores.

Seriously, they're like a weird, impossible-to-navigate, car-cart hybrid: Nascar, meet Ass-Cart. As in, you're really going to have to put yo' ass into it if you expect to push it through the store fast enough to keep your perishables (and your brain) from rotting.

14. Consider purchasing and following a beginner’s marathon training program. It’s no secret that toddlers have a penchant for mischief. You’ll be running. A hella lot. Little kids are surprisingly fast, and—when there are two of them—they tend to take off in opposite directions.

15. Adopt the pre-hibernation eating habits of bears. You’ll definitely want to fill your nutritional reserves. Trying to eat with one demanding toddler around is hard enough; trying to eat with two demanding toddlers around is laughable.

And my equally demanding twin can smell them, too.
Two noses are greedier than one.
[via memegenerator]

16. Master the “rub your belly while patting your head” challenge. Multitasking isn’t an art when you have twins; it’s a matter of survival. In fact, you should probably figure out how to do this while pushing the type of shopping cart mentioned in #13.

17. Learn how to buckle a car seat with one hand. Put the other hand on the windshield wiper control, gear shift handle, or turn signal lever. While you’re busy strapping one kid into his car seat, the other one will often shimmy up to the driver’s seat and begin playing with anything that can be pushed, pulled, or broken off completely.

If you’re really dedicated to your twin toddler training regimen, you can also try banging your head against a wall until you start seeing double, but I don’t recommend sacrificing any of your brain cells voluntarily.

Although the accompanying migraine would definitely give you a realistic glimpse of how you’ll be feeling for the next couple of years.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

To the Mom in the NICU: You Are Enough

To the brand new mother in the NICU, the one who refuses to leave her premature baby’s side:

I have sat where you sit. I have feared the things you fear. I have felt the pain you feel.

I have held my own three-pound miracle, and marveled at the soft blond hair covering his body, as if his guardian angel’s wings had shed downy golden feathers on him, keeping him warm. Keeping him safe.

And I have asked myself, Why couldn’t I keep him safe?

Why wasn’t my body the loving, nurturing environment he needed?

Why wasn’t I enough?

I know the guilt. I know that you feel like you’ve failed him in this harsh world, a world he’s not even supposed to have entered yet.

You should have done more. Should have given more. Should have been more.

But let me tell you something: There is nothing more than love.

Nothing more you can do for him than love. Nothing more you can give to him than love. Nothing more you can be for him than love.

He knows your love, and that is more than enough.

He feels it.

He feels it in the way you cradle his fragile body close to your chest, and in the warmth of your skin enveloping him like the quintessential security blanket. He feels it in your heart, pressed against his, beating out a private “I love you” in an intimate Morse code that only the two of you understand.

He feels it in the tip of your finger, the only part of your hand that fits inside his precious, wrinkled fist. He feels more love in that one finger than some children feel in a lifetime.

He feels it in the soft trembling of your body as it quivers with silent shakes of wonder, hope, and gratitude.

He smells it.

He smells it in the faint staleness of unwashed hair, unbrushed teeth, and unlaundered clothing, byproducts of your refusal to part with him any longer than absolutely necessary.

He smells it in the soured breastmilk crusted on the front of your shirt, and in the pungent odor of cafeteria food that's seeped into your skin.

He smells it in the Purell you rub into your hands every time you hope to touch him, and in the iodine residue that has permanently settled into the cracks of your knuckles, a souvenir from the scrub room you frequent on a daily basis.

He hears it.

He hears it in the hushed voice that reads to him while he lies in his incubator, and in the songs that are whispered softly into his ear as you cradle him in your arms. He hears Christmas carols, because you don’t know any lullabies yet.

He hears it in the gentle creak of the rocking chair, and in the muffled sound your lips make as they trace the path between his cheek and the crown of his head, marveling in the softness they find there.

He hears it over the whirring of the CPAP machine, when you whisper to him so that no one else can hear, reminding him—begging him—to keep breathing.

He hears it in the rhythmic snores and deep breaths of your slumber—when exhaustion finally gets the best of you—and in the waking silences you spend in meditation and prayer.

He tastes it.

He tastes it on your skin, as you trace the cupid’s bow of his upper lip with your little finger, and in the waxy layer of Vaseline you apply so tenderly to the cracked, flaky skin you find there.

He tastes it in the plastic coating of the tiny tube that transports your breastmilk to his underdeveloped belly, and in the traces of day-old coffee when you gingerly touch your lips to his.

He tastes it in the salty tears that spill from your eyes and land on the delicate red skin of his cheeks, anointing him with a mother’s everlasting devotion.

He sees it.

He sees it in the lines carving themselves into your face, spanning like map routes, recounting the journey of how you came to be here—together—in this moment, but showing no indication of where you’re going. They point towards uncharted territory that you’ll discover together.

He sees it in the disappointed way you bite your lip when the nurse tells you it’s “not a good day” to remove him from his incubator, and in the way your hands instinctively press against your chest, reflecting your desire to hold him there.

He sees it in the dark circles that hang from your eyes like weights, willing them to close, and in the determination in the pupils that peek out, forcing them to remain open. He sees it in your stubbornness, your fear to miss even a single moment of the beautiful life you created.

He sees it in the way you see him, as if there is nothing else you can—or will ever need to—see.

You brought him into this world, and he became yours. You love him. He knows.

And you are enough.


And to my own NICU warriors:

From our first week in the NICU together... our last... 

..and every day since...'ve had my heart.

I hope I've earned yours.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I Wake to My Son in the Morning

He lifts his head slowly, deliberately, delicately—the way a flower bud opens. His face glows with the warm butterscotch of the morning sunrise, and his eyelids are still weighted with sleep, the slightest sliver of hazel visible beneath his feathered lashes. When he turns his head toward mine, I see it, spanned across his cheek like a blushing butterfly: the soft impression of my hand.

The image warms my heart the way the rising sun that peeks through the curtains warms my skin: progressively, wholly, inevitably. I think back to last night, when he called out for me at two in the morning and insisted I crawl into bed with him. I curled up next to his miniscule body and felt the heat emanating from his slightly damp skin, moonlight illuminating the tiny beads of sweat on his nose, making them sparkle like diamonds.

I was tired and had been eager for a night of solid, solitary sleep. So I kissed the top of his head, wiped the glistening droplets from the slope of his nose, whispered “I love you” into his ear, and gave his delicate hand a little squeeze, intending to sneak back to the comfort (and roominess) of my own bed once he fell asleep.

But after he’d returned the gentle pulse of my hand, he pulled it to his face—sliding it in the tiny space between the mattress and his head—and nestled his cheek in the concavity of my open palm.

So I stayed.

We slept that way for the rest of the night: my hand a pillow for his cheek, a thin film of sweat forming where his skin met mine. I cupped his dreams in the palm of my hand and lost myself in the serenity of his peaceful slumber. He welcomed me into his private night world, looping his arm through mine like a pretzel, leaving the tender skin inside of our elbows kissing while we drifted off to the sounds of each other’s breathing.

When I finally woke, it was to a gentle tingling in my hand, as if the whorls on my fingertips had been electrified by the spark of his touch.

I look at him now as he continues to stir in the soft morning light. I study his tiny features: the button nose he inherited from me, his pouty little lips, the classic raised brows and disheveled hair. He is dazed, sweaty, and has a slightly wild look about him. He is perfect. He is mine.

We hear the high pitched sounds of birds greeting the morning, their chirps filtering in through the slitted blinds in measured intervals, alongside the light. His eyes widen, the glow of the sun reflected in their perfect roundness, and he smiles as he chirps back.

As I return my gaze to that tender imprint of my hand on his cheek, I can see it begin to fade, and I know it pales in comparison to the one he’s left on my heart.

And today, there is something greater than the morning sun dawning on me:

I have so much to be grateful for.

Because I am a mom.

Maybe Mother’s Day is just spring’s version of Thanksgiving.

Our first Mother's Day together.
Thanksgiving 2014

Thursday, May 7, 2015

13 Ways to Stop Yelling at Your Kids

My kids have this annoying way of hanging on my last nerve like it’s a freaking monkey bar. They’ll poke me in the eye, use the salt shaker as a maraca, leave Hot Wheels in my slippers, or whine about the unsatisfactory texture of their oatmeal and the fact that it’s not ice cream—whatever it takes to leave me on the verge of a meltdown.

Unfortunately, unlike monkey bars, nerves aren't made of steel. They’re known to snap. And, when they do, I yell.

Now, I don’t know any parents (myself included) who enjoy yelling. I've personally promised to stop on numerous occasions. I’ll wake up in the morning and—before I even open my eyes—think to myself, Today’s a new day. Today’s a fresh start. Today, I will not yell.

But then my kid jumps on my bed and yanks out a chunk of my hair.

It’s hard not to raise your voice when your kid is raising hell, but that doesn't mean I like doing it. Yelling sucks. It makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel out-of-control. It makes me spit and slobber and spew out incoherent gibberish like the Tasmanian Devil (before quality cartoons were overthrown by sunshine, rainbows, amicable tigers, and everyone-getting-along-all-the-time). It makes my damn throat hurt.

In my quest to temper my outbursts, I've read a lot of articles about “how to stop yelling at your kids.” I mean, a lot. In fact, it kind of makes me wonder if the real reason the parents writing this shit are able to avoid yelling is because they spend all their time and energy brainstorming more things that parents can fail at (because clearly there’s not enough of that circulating around the internet already). Maybe I’m just weak, but I've found that most of these “suggestions” work well in theory but not in practice.

I have, however, stumbled across a few winners. If you’re a “yeller” hoping to make a change, check out the list below. Here are fourteen 13 strategies I've found online that I believe really can help you stop yelling at your kids.

1. Count to ten. If you don’t have enough wine to fill that many glasses, go get another bottle.

2. Find an outlet for your anger.* An electrical one. You’ll want a fork as well.

3. Give yourself some space. Right. When’s the next manned spaceflight to the moon scheduled, and how do I get my name on the list?

4. Practice deep breathing. Into a pipe. Seriously, medical marijuana is legal in almost half the country now. It shouldn't be too hard to get your hands on a prescription. Doctors use it to treat insomnia, chronic pain (surely pain in the ass counts), and headaches. If your doc is still hesitant to write you one, bring your kids with you to your next appointment. He’ll probably offer to let you huff it through the tubes of his sphygmomanometer.*

He might even join you.

*If you do end up high, try to say this word out loud

5. Invest in a squeezable stress ball. Then shove it in your mouth. That’ll stop the yelling right at the source. Or, if the kids are being loud, shove it in theirs, and you may curtail the compulsion to yell. On a related note:

6. Get support. When balled up, support hosiery makes an excellent gag for either you or your whiny offspring.

7. Adopt a mantra. So…“Mantra” is, like, French for live-in nanny or something, right?

8. Identify your triggers. Learning to properly identify and employ a water gun trigger may be helpful. Hosing your kid down is surprisingly satisfying.

9. Hug it out. If you squeeze tightly enough, it just might shut them up. Or, it’ll melt you into a puddle of sentimental goo. (Okay, so this one’s pretty legit.)

10. Ask for help. “Hey, Mr. Mailman, can you help me estimate the cost of postage for sending approximately 60 lbs worth of toddler via priority mail? Oh, who are we kidding here? I can't afford that shit. How much do you charge for standard? What's that? No, no, no, I would not like to add a tracking number. Or insurance."

11. Release your stress through physical activity. Tossing the kids around under the guise of “dancing” tends to work for me. Sometimes you just need to shake ‘em up a bit.

12. Just stop. Just stop. Just…stop? JUST STOP! HOLY CRAP, WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?
[via memegenerator]

13. Be a roll model. Like…turn into a roll of toilet paper? Right, I guess that would work; an inanimate object is physically incapable of yelling. How simple. 

Oh wait…it’s role model? Dammit. Freaking homophones. Scratch this one.

14. 13. Try to see things from your child’s point of view. Depending on your kid’s age and stature, passing out on the couch should put you pretty close to eye-level. If yours is taller, go for the recliner.

Interestingly, I've not yet read anything touting the effectiveness of duct tape. I may have to experiment with that one and modify this list accordingly.


A note:

To be fair, a lot of the strategies out there are probably somewhat effective. But when you have one kid twisting your nipples and another one sucking on the drain stopper from the bathroom sink like it’s a popsicle (yes, Ollie has done that), it’s kinda hard to tap into the rational part of your brain.

Besides… I mean....sarcasm. You can't really yell if you're laughing.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

8 Ways that the Playground Is Like a Medieval Torture Chamber for Parents

Contrary to the popular Game of Thrones memes circulating the Interwebs, Summer is Coming. If you're a parent, that means you will likely be putting in a lot of long, hot hours playing* with your kids at the playground in the next few months.

* "Playing" is a euphemism for making sure your offspring don't kill themselves or anyone else's. 

And it’s best to be prepared for the hell you may encounter.

Yes, I said hell. Because taking your kids to the playground can be torture. Not just figuratively speaking. Like, actual physical torture. Think I’m exaggerating? I am. But if you could use a good laugh and can relate to some of the discomforts of playgrounding, check out the list below. 

Here are eight medieval torture methods you may be subjected to at your local playground this summer:

1. Torture method: Being burned at the stake.

What it does: Makes you hot. Like, real hot. And not in the fun, sexy way.

Playground equivalent: Running around with your kids on that shredded tire crap often used in the name of “safety” and “landfill reduction.”

Pssshhh. Safety, my ass. Maybe it’s just because I live in Texas (a type of torture in and of itself), but walking on that shit when it’s sunny out is like walking on hot coals. If playground architects want something “safe” and “recyclable,” maybe they should consider bubble wrap. Because who the hell doesn't love some good bubble wrap?

Seriously, I almost feel bad for the dude who thought it was a good idea to cover a kids’ play land with heat absorbing material. Karma’s a bitch. I hope he carries a fire extinguisher around with him in case he spontaneously combusts someday.

2. Torture method: The Judas Cradle.

What it does: Essentially a stool with a pyramid shaped seat, this thing literally tears up the victim’s anus or vagina.

Playground equivalent: “Playing” on the teeter totter.

If your kids are like mine, they can’t let a playground trip go by without begging you to be the teeter to their totter. The wooden ones are the worst. Splinters up your ass? Not my idea of “fun.” Now, I’m sure there are plenty of moms out there (myself included) who don’t mind a little wood in their vajayjays (amirite?), but not in a goddamn literal sense.

3. Torture method: The Rack.

What it does: Invokes a system of pulleys and levers to pull the victim’s limbs apart until his joints are dislocated or separated completely.

Playground equivalent: Bringing more than one kid with you.

If you've ever accompanied multiple children to the playground, you probably know what it feels like to have your limbs ripped apart in opposite directions.

4. Torture method: The Pillory.

What it does: Subjects the victim to public humiliation and ridicule. This is basically a wooden framework thing that has holes for you to stick your head and hands through. You've probably seen them at fairs or amusement parks, and may even have a goofy picture of your family posing in one during a family vacation.

Playground equivalent: Crawling through plastic tubes.

If you've ever chased your kid through a playground tunnel—only to find your birthing hips or post-baby belly wedged firmly inside of it, your head or arms hanging out of the sides—surely you understand where the public humiliation aspect comes into play here.

5. Torture method: Waterboarding.

What it does: Gives you the terrifying sensation of drowning.

Playground equivalent: Unexpectedly having your face shoved into a water fountain.

There is no such thing as a “safe zone” at the playground: not even that area off to the side—where the water fountains are located—theoretically away from the chaos of impromptu tag games and kids on various wheeled contraptions (even though the sign on the fence clearly prohibits all bikes, roller blades, etc.) The moment you sneak away to a water fountain and lean down to hydrate, some little tot on a scooter rams into you, forcing your head forward and filling your nostrils with lukewarm playground water.

6. Torture method: The Tongue Tearer.

What it does: Umm…this one should be pretty self-explanatory.

Playground equivalent: Biting your tongue when you see someone else’s kid being a brat.

You probably know you shouldn't discipline other people’s kids, but that doesn't mean it’s easy to keep your mouth shut when you see some little snot rocket prancing around like King Friday in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

7. Torture method: The Breast-Ripper.

(If you're like me, this probably isn't a huge concern for you. Hard to grip AAs.)

What it does: Again, do I really need to elaborate?

Playground equivalent: Nursing near the monkey bars.

To be fair, if you’re whipping out the boob juice dispensers around a bunch of rowdy kids, you’re kind of asking for trouble. Monkey bars tend to bring out the inner (poorly trained) gymnast in everyone under the age of twelve, and most of these kids don’t have the best control over their flailing—yet surprisingly solid—little bodies. One loose grip, and you could lose a nip.

8. Torture method: Rat torture.

What it does: Traps rats against the victim’s abdomen until they begin gnawing through his innards.

Playground equivalent: The merry-go-round.

Yeah, I don’t know about you, but spinning around in circles pretty much makes me feel like my stomach and small intestine are being ripped out of me by tiny rodent teeth.

If you think the playground is a heavenly place where kids burn off all their energy while you sit on a park bench, browsing shirtless Liam Hemsworth photos on your phone, think again. 

Yes, sometimes the monkey bars align, the kids are calm and self-sufficient, the weather is awesome, and the playground is magical. But when it’s not?

Well, hopefully you have a high pain threshold. Or a babysitter.

*For the record, I happen to love taking my boys to the playground...when it's not infinity.8° out. And we've all logged sufficient nap time. And there aren't any shitwits hanging around.