Parent’s Hell, version 3.0.

A while ago I decided the ante-room to Hell was sitting in traffic in an Odyssey filled with kids, one of whom needs to pee, listening to the soundtrack of Frozen for the five hundredth time. I don’t mean the musical soundtrack, I mean the sound of the movie playing without being able to see any of it. Trust me, it’s worse. Once I got into Hell, it was going to be much the same, except the kid would now have peed the seat and they’d be playing the Miley Cyrus cover of Let it Go at 1.5 times the normal speed.

But I think I was thinking too small. In honor of Dante, here are nine other rings of perdition I’ve come up with. Feel free to add your own.

  1. The Ring of Target. In this ring you are permanently circling the toy department trying to find the Littlest Pet Shop Armadillo. Your child can identify the packaging from a distance of one thousand meters, but as you get closer it turns into spinach, throwing the child into hysterics. They spot it again… you wheel in that direction… spinach. Meanwhile the frozen food you’ve optimistically purchased in their grocery section melts in your cart.
  2. The Ring of Dora. You are Dora. Swiper is after you. But this time he’s armed. Click. Beep. End of story.
  3. The Ring of Bra Shopping. You run, screaming, from changing room to changing room, each one more badly lit than the last, trying to find a bra that makes your boobs look like they used to. You never find it. You spend every second minute grabbing your fat roll and crying softly. Justin Bieber is singing Octopus’s Garden. Eventually you tear your own ears off and use them as nipple covers.
  4. The Ring of Married Sex. Nothing happens in this ring.
  5. The Ring of Infant Testing. In this ring you’re forced to stand by while they do that incredibly stupid and inexplicable test on your newborn where they cut their foot open and squeeze enough blood out to fill five tiny circles on some government form. If they go over the edges they have to start over, and as this is Hell, they go over the edges. Your child is screaming, your boobs are exploding, and over the PA they’re playing Jack Johnson gently covering All Along the Watchtower.
  6. The Ring of Healthy Eating. The kid wants plain pasta with cheese. You want her to eat a leaf of some sort. I actually spend about two hours in this ring every day.
  7. The Ring of Stupid Spouses. You spend eight hours in the Ring, chasing kids, breaking up fights, making plain pasta with cheese, wiping butts, picking up dog shit, half doing laundry, half doing bill paying, needing to pee the entire time. Every eight hours your spouse walks in, says the house is a disaster, and wonders out loud what you’ve been doing all day. You stab them with a American Girl hair pick, but they refuse to die.
  8. The Ring of Shoes. In my least favorite Ring, you have two minutes to find matching shoes and socks for three kids. You can find one of every pair they own. When you do find two that match the right kid isn’t there any more. When that kid does show up you’ve lost one of the shoes again. Meanwhile the dog realizes you’re trying to leave the house and stands there, whining. You’re also trying to remember to bring the lunches.
  9. The Ring of School Applications. You’re touring elementary schools you can’t afford, but which will apparently assure your child lifelong success and the ability to cure cancer. The Principal stands at the gates of Hell and says, ‘This is a school that will help every child to reach their full potential’, but then turns to you, points, and says, “Except YOURS, asshole.” Then he turns into Taylor Swift and throws a cat at you.

OK, now I’ve given myself the willies.

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