Going postal

post-officeI wish stay-at-home moms got to stay at home more, because sometimes going places in public with children really bites.  I have a top ten list of places I hate to go with my children.  When you have three children in car seats, there is no such thing as a “run in and run out” errand.  The post office is high on the list of unpleasant outings, along with the DMV, doctor appointments, and Visiting teaching.

Maybe there’s just an unusually high percentage of grumpy postal workers in my neck of the woods, but I seriously cringe when I have to go INSIDE to take care of postal business.  I don’t know what it is, but my children walk into a post office and get a primal urge to run around in small circles.  It does not matter that we have a little chat about it in the car before we go inside.  Those retractable stand-in-line barrier things are of the devil (and also part of the reason that the bank is on my top-ten list).  I’m talking about these:


I might as well be speaking Russian to  Japanese Snow Monkeys when I repeatedly ask my kids not to touch them.  The previously-threatened and then followed-through time-out that they recieve at home does not even deter them.  This picture represents the relationship between a four-year-old’s hands and those dumb retractable-belt barriers:

mothflameSo, anyway, I had to go to the post office Saturday.  The last two times I went were around the holidays, so you can understand why I’ve stayed away so long.  (One of those involved a federal offense where I left with unpurchased merchandise that I’d already written on because I simply could not stand in line any longer.  For the record, I have since returned and paid my debt to society.)  And in this particular post office in the past, my children were all yelled at by a “gentleman” behind the counter who firmly reminded them that there’s NO RUNNING.  So I gave the lecture, and my three little post-office demons and I walked in.  Luckily there were only a couple people in line, and I tried to use my mental powers to keep my children by my side while I purchased and addressed padded envelopes.  However, I refer you back to the pictures above, and you can guess what happened.  I called their names many times and reminded them to stay by me and stop running in circles like rabid terriers.

The lovely postal worker, however, could not refrain from also barking at them, so I was annoyed.  Again.  And when I went to the counter and paid, and she said to me, “Boy, they sure have a lot of energy today,” I kind of snapped a little.  I didn’t really go postal, but I was bugged.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the snark as I said, “They always do.  They’re CHILDREN!.”  Then I concentrated on my PIN for my debit card, forced a smile, left, and promised myself for the 746th time since I had children to never return to the post office again.

So, um, Becca and The Queen, you’d better appreciate that chocolate!

What’s on your I’d-rather-brush-my-teeth-with-toe-jam-than-go-there-with-my-children list?  You know you have one.


41 thoughts on “Going postal

  1. Did you just post this? I was coming in for the talk, and found this. It had not even showed up on my feed yet.
    I pretty much do not take my kids anywhere. Unless it is a kid activity. If I have to do anything adult, or use my brain at all. I go alone.
    I have three rules when any of my children are with me:
    1. Do not talk to me when I am driving.
    2. Do not talk to me when the radio is on.
    3. Do not violate rules one and two.
    Brooklyn has these rules down. The others need a little practice.
    Side Rule: If you do talk to me at a safe time, and I do not answer you – I am thinking. So don’t expect me to even have heard you.
    Following the side rule, takes some practice – but Joel has it down some days. The rest will follow.
    I dont expect much. Really I dont.

  2. I feel the same way! Noah thinks the word no means yes and thinks chase is something mommy loves to do. If I try to hold him he arches his back and screams at the top of his lungs. I’ve taken him to a few dr appointments and my dr always says “you sure have your hands full”. Uhm, you think?

    One place I avoid like the plague is the post office. Always a line and never more than one grouchy person behind the counter. So I use usps.com exclusively now. My favorite thing is the free carrier pickup. I don’t ship things very often but it sure made Christmas a breeze.

  3. Fortunately, my kids are old enough now that it’s not too horrible to take them anywhere with me…

    But I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick than EVER go to Walmart…with or without them. Unfortunately, I’m there at least twice a week!

    Great post, btw…totally made me laugh and feel sympathy for you all at the same time!

  4. I really did not go anywhere very often when my kids were young mostly because we were one car family so my husband had the car at work. I don’t like taking my kids to any store because they are now too big to sit in the carts and therefore they wander around and don’t pay attention to what is going on around them. This means they get in the way of other shoppers and it drives me insane.

  5. Can I just say that those stupid barrier things have been put in society to fluster mothers. The only places I see them is inevitably where children will be lining up with their mothers. And inevitably the stupid people behind the counter look frowningly upon your child swinging (yes… even my two year old does it) on the retractable rope, look at you like you are the worst mother in the world (because you are paying attention to your purchase instead of child) and say… “if she keeps swinging on that, she will get hurt.” Oh really? I’m sorry, I hadn’t heard that one before. I guess that is why EVERY store has them… because they are such a hazard to children!!!

    Ugh… that was a bit of a rant. Sorry! It turns out I feel a little strongly about those retractable barriers and the patronising way it is dealt with …. E.V.E.R.Y SINGLE TIME!

    On to your question. Our ward has sacrament meeting after sunday school and Relief Society. At midday…. right when LQ is past all reasoning. Unfortunately, this is the place where I wish I were eating LQ’s diapers instead of being there. So I get that feeling every week!

  6. I LOATH the post office! I, quite literally, almost have a panic attack just thinking of going; even without my 2 1/2 year old angel! I almost always send my husband to the post office for me, even if that means waiting for a week or more to get something mailed, just so I don’t have to see the post office trolls.

  7. WAL-MART!!!!!!!
    May I add restaurants, museums, banks, department stores, and basically any public place. It’s not so bad if my husband is around to help corral them. But if I’m on my own, I honestly have to say that I don’t ENJOY taking the kids anywhere but the park and the library.
    Somewhat related side note: I’d love to hear some of your recommendations for children’s books. Are there some authors you just love and stick with? Who are your kids’ favorites?

  8. Definitely the post office. It’s very hard to stay in line and keep the kids corraled at the same time.

    Shopping anywhere. Especially because my 2 year old has a healthy aversion to sitting in carts. I have to bribe her with a horse (or elephant or whatever) ride after we’re done, and I’m toast if I don’t have 2 quarters.

    I try to go to drive-throughs for the bank and anything else possible. The post office really should consider that.

  9. So funny and entertaining- AGAIN:) Your writing reminds me of Kari’s. It is a real talent, and you paint a picture so well:) I love having a child old enough to babysit the rest, cause the times I have to take kids places is becoming fewer and far(er)? between. It’s coming someday for you…

  10. I truly believe that those barrier pieces hold some sort of subliminal “signal” for all children under the age of 10 to start running in circles and avoid whatever parent/adult is trying to tell them! I especially dislike the post office, banks, DMV, banks, restraunts (only those that have these particular “barriers”), Costco food court, oh, for the sake of saving me from typing all night, ALL places that have those stinkin’ things! I am so glad I am not the only one who hates them- when I am trying to manage my 3 yahoos around them, I am quite aware of everyone’s temper, making me feel like I am the only person who deals with unruley kids!

  11. My youngest three children are triplets, and so I did my best to never EVER take them anywhere that they didn’t have to go when they were young. I lacked the intestinal fortitude to try to grocery shop (or run any errand, really) when it involved toting 3 babies in 3 carseats out to the car and in to anywhere.

    On the other hand, if there is anyplace I would take them, it’s to the post office. We live in a fairly rural area and the workers at the post office are some of the nicest people I have ever met. It makes going to the post office a pleasure instead of a torture!

  12. When we lived in the mountains there was no postal home delivery. PO boxes only. So we went every day. To just check your box you did not have to wait in-line. But if something was too big, or needed a signature … we were in line at least once a week. But since everyone had to do it, no one ever got annoyed with restless kids. Plus, there was no retractable barrier to tempt.

    The place my kids (who are ages 7-14) STILL misbehave is the furniture store. They want to run to sit on everything, and yell to each other every cool piece they discover. It’s awful. We try to go without them. But there were a few times we were buying for my husband’s office, and we had no choice. At least the sales people were patient to our faces because we were spending lots of money.

  13. I hate to admit this, but I used to hate taking my children to church. One of my children especially (although now he behaves beautifully and takes his priesthood responsibilities seriously) because he would yell “I hate church! Church is boring!” during Sacrament meeting. He wanted to be removed to the foyer, although he would yell and scream while I removed him. And most of the years when my children were little, I was the only one getting them ready for church, because my husband had early meetings so I was already tired and cranky by the time we got to church.

    I also didn’t like taking my children into the gas station–this was back before we had pay-at-the-pump. They always wanted all the crap that is sold in gas station convenience stores and became severely grumpy when I wouldn’t buy anything for them. And they had to touch everything. I will kiss the feet of the person who came up with the pay-at-the-pump idea if I ever meet him or her in this life or the next.

      • I agree with the Shoebox Princess about the whole church thing. Sacrament meeting is last and so my kids are ready to run and yell and scream etc. My 15 month old runs around all over the place during Sunday School and doesn’t want to be quiet at all so by the time Sacarment comes, I am ready to go home and be done. Even though she has been running around for about 1 hr she still doesn’t want to be confined to a bench and be happy. Hopefully one day church will be enjoyable again. 😉

  14. Renie is my crazy child. Anywhere I take her is a bit of a nightmare. I had reached a point when we lived in NC that I truly despised the Post Office. I could think of no place in the world I hated taking children more. But since we have moved to the Midwest, it is easy and quick. I can pull up right in front of the huge window of the building, leave my lil darlins all buckled in, run in, keeping an eye on the vehicle at all times, go right up to the counter, do what i have to do, and be back out in the car with them in a matter of 2 minutes. If there happens to be someone in there, I wait in the car until they are done, then run in and take my turn.
    So now it’s doctor appointments. They try to rummage through all the drawers, climb on the exam table, waste all the paper on the table, mess with the computer, try to escape out of the room to run wildly through the office, slide the privacy curtain back and forth back and forth. It’s like my two suddenly become 10 kids bouncing off the walls in those little exam rooms.

  15. nat once skipped the entire line at the DMV because the boys were throwing a fit. A strapped to the stroller, back arching, ear piercing fit. In retrospect, she appreciated all the kind people who told her to go ahead, but at the moment, she was pretty devastated.

  16. ummm…4 kids under 6….
    In this neck of the woods I would say there is not a single public place I feel OR will feel like taking them -all at once- for at least another 6 years or more…It is way too stressful for everyone. Even libraries or playgrounds (kid friendly places) are too much if there is not another adult helping. The youngest one runs away (and he is FAST), the older one stops people (anyone) to socialize, in the most innocent way, but to the strangest people, one of the middle ones is too stubborn to succumb to any bribing when needed, and the other has to touch EVERYTHING she sees. It´s just too chaotic, not mentioning all the arguing, competing among them, and fighting….I could really keep going but I could fill pages and it wouldn´t be fair, I remember doing all of the above while I was a kid and not understanding why I couldn´t.
    We do get out and do things when dad is around though…it just takes planning, rehearsal, even headache medicine in some cases and, let´s not forget: two days of rest afterwards….

  17. I got my chocolate and I do love it so much. Thank you for torturing yourself on my behalf. Since all three of my children told me they hated me yesterday, it could not have come at a better time. 🙂

    I did not take the twins to the post office when they were young, and when one of them, as a three-year-old went with me for the first time and asked what kind of place this was, I felt guilty! How could I have not let her experience the post office? What else had she missed? I got over the guilt once I took them a few times, though.

    Sadly, when my oldest was three and my twins were around one and a half, I had to stop going to the library because the little ones threw fits every time we left. I had to carry both of them out screaming in the echo-ey front lobby while my oldest cried because I was making her hold the huge pile of books.

    But, my least favorite place to go is the craft store. Still. They can’t keep their hands to themselves!

  18. In Puerto Rico, there is no such thing as a doctor’s appointment. You have “before noon” or “after noon”, and you just show up and wait and wait and wait….

    My friend used to claim she never waited more than 30 minutes to see the doctor. Why? Because the first thing she did upon arriving was tell the receptionist, “I have a half-hour’s worth of entertainment for these five kids. After that, I’m turning them loose on this office.”

    Kids as WMDs? There’s an upside to everything!

  19. The library without a stroller with a harness! Having one child (complaining all the while) unsuccessfully chase after the other who is pulling out books, grabbing pencils, climbing on desks and screaming while you are trying to find one stinkin’ book on an octopus for preschool and all the “quiet” librarians and patrons are shooting you dirty looks.

  20. Oh, and I forgot the dr’s office, where the “disposed of sharps” are like a magnet to my son. Sure, who wouldn’t want to play with a dirty syphilis infested syringe? Then there was when I was pregnant, and I couldn’t keep him by my head during exams and he developed a sick attraction to the stirrups, playing with them till the dr. was in the room.

  21. Oh. My. Yes.

    I have a good friend who just has one little one at home and we all pile into my car together and do our errands sometimes and take turns running into the post office, etc, while the other sits in the car.

    She’s starting up a home day care this month and I’m trying not to cry. She won’t be able to come with me anymore. Eeep!

  22. I have had so few positive experiences taking my brood with me without adult back-up that I rarely do it. And whenever I do, I am tense, stressed, and so miserable that I vow never to do it again. If it doesn’t have a drive-thru, you can pretty much bet I won’t be patronizing a particular establishment.

    Unless, of course, my husband is with me. When he is around, their behavior is exemplary. I may be exaggerating here a bit. But they’re definitely better for him than they are for me. Together, we can go to the grocery store, bank, post office, sit down restaurants, Target, and Lowe’s. And he can do all those things without me. But can I do them without him? Absolutely not.

    The park is about the limit for me. And even that’s pushing it, because when it comes time to leave, my kids scatter like psychotic marbles on a gym floor and refuse to be gathered, cajoled or bribed into the minivan under any circumstances. I can see the, “Wow, I’m glad those aren’t my kids” in the eyes of the well-dressed, gym-fit, perfectly coiffed mothers of one angelic 5 year old little girl as they unabashedly look upon me in my jeans, old t-shirt and pony tail and my three rambunctious, energetic, extremely bright and creative little boys. What they don’t know is they have my pity, too!

  23. Marshalls. Because one day in a weak moment I let my two-year-old out to see himself reflected in the three-way mirror a million times and now he thinks he always has to get out and see the eternal Cameron again and again. Oh, and apparently hide and seek is a blast in clothing rounders.

    Perhaps I hate it so much because of how much I would LOVE to waste lots of time there!

  24. Is it awful to say Disneyland? I just can’t stand the crowds and the terrifying thoughts of my kids possibly being abducted.

    Oh, and never let your kid sit on the counter at the post office–even if you just need them there so you have your hand free to sign the receipt or pun in you PIN. The yell at you for that too.

  25. Definitely doctor’s appointments. I didn’t get a babysitter for my most recent prenatal and my two girls (2 &4) wouldn’t sit AT ALL. They wanted to play with the curtains and kept trying to run away. I know that I looked like a totally frazzled mom and I’m sure everyone was wondering WHY I wanted another one. I have a babysitter lined up for this next one and I’m GLADLY paying.

    I also won’t take them grocery shopping or to the post office. And the worst is taking a potty training child ANYWHERE. They ALWAYS do their business (that they’ve been holding in b/c they don’t want to use the potty) in public places. So glad I’ve got ONE trained, not looking forward to dealing with the next two…

  26. Umm… Actually, I kind of like taking my kids places. BUT. It can only be when we’re all starting out in good moods. Bad moods and ANY people within 50 feet is a recipe for disaster. But I really like taking my kids places. If other people have a problem with it, I get annoyed a little, but usually we just have a good time reading all the signs and pointing out all the cool stuff they can’t find at home.

    Of course, I’m probably jinxing myself by even writing this. Watch. Tomorrow, I’ll have to come back and say, “Just kidding. I now hate errands.”

  27. The Queen’s line “I got over the guilt once I took them a few times, though” made me laugh out loud.

    I love it that my oldest can be left in charge for short trips now; it’s life-changing and such a boon when I just don’t want to deal with my spirited children. But I do actually believe in taking kids places; I think it’s good for them to learn how to behave in public, and to see how the world works. But you do have to be prepared to take more time than usual to deal with bad behavior as it comes up, and sometimes you don’t have that time, and it can be traumatic. I’ve had many http://myimaginaryblog.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/ugh/ outings with my kids. But I try to remember the good times — the times when my 2-year-old helps me put apples into a bag, or I have a nice conversation with my 5-year old.

  28. uh, I had a little HTML trouble up there, and left out the word “traumatic” in the sentence that should say “many traumatic outings.”

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