Embarrassing Exits: When Family Outings Go Bad

The worst public exit with children I've ever endured was when my oldest son was a toddler and he decided to object to the fact that we were leaving the playground by hitting me in the face. Repeatedly. While both my hands were being used to carry and contain his thrashing-salmon body, so I couldn't even protect myself.

I ended up staggering out of the play area and to my car with a mini Ike Turner in my arms, at which point I will confess I did not sit him down gently for a calm, quiet conversation about how beating the crap out of Mommy is bad.

No, if memory serves, I basically football-tossed him into the back of the car, slammed the door as hard as I could with exactly zero regard for any small fingers that might be in the way, and burst into tears. 


Ah, the humiliating parental departure. There's nothing quite like it, is there? The burning stares of strangers, the steam rising from your face, the growing desire to simply drop your feral child to the floor and walk away as quickly as possible.

I remember leaving a Blockbuster once after one too many laps around the store chasing a toddler who was hell-bent on grabbing every DVD box in sight and re-shelving it elsewhere. I had to do the walk of shame from the far end of the store all the way to the exit, struggling to carry a back-arching kid who was screaming like I had jammed a pair of angry lobsters down the back of his diaper. It was a busy Friday night and an entire line of people turned to watch as I lurched along, praying for an errant bolt of lightning.

That was four and a half years ago. I've been in a Blockbuster exactly once since then, a visit that involved my then-4-year-old curiously pushing the door that said FIRE EXIT ONLY ALARM WILL SOUND.

We do Netflix now.

My 3-year-old's current thing is to yank his hand out of mine as we walk through busy parking lots, and then, oh my hell, try to run away from me. It is the most maddening feeling in the entire world, a confusion of emotions that can only be described as pants-filling protective Mama-bear fear over a child's safety, combined with a HULK SMASH sort of rage towards the exact same child. He tends to do this when we're leaving a fun activity as an act of rebellion, and I do not know how many parking lots I have now frog-marched him through with the Eagle Claw of Death deployed on his angry little shoulder while he wails like a firebell.

It makes me think of the times back before I became a parent when I'd see some frazzled mom angrily hustling their sobbing preschooler along, and I'd feel sorry for the child. Now I know better. It's like that Louis CK routine: "What did that shitty kid do to that poor woman?"

Do you have any terrible-exit tales to share? Please do, if only to remind me I'm not the only one.

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