During my prekid life, I fancied myself something of a wine snob. I'd diligently pace the aisles of my local wine shops agonizing over whether to buy a Barbera or a Barollo, a Pinot or a Merlot, a Grigio or a Blanc. These were the important decisions in life, and as everyone knows, wine choice depends very much on what you're pairing it with.
White wine went better with fish, red with meat, and cocktails were strictly for aperitifs and nights out.
But now everything is different. I have three small children, almost no social life, and even less time. I can't spend precious minutes wandering past the imported wines considering oakiness and tannins. There are diapers to be changed, noses to wipe, and tantrums to terminate. There's no wine in the world that pairs with the whining that comes from my children when they're in meltdown mode.
However, there are more than a few cocktails that comfortably numb the pain of cold dinners, partially masticated crusts, and the distant sound of screaming toddlers.
In fact, if you're feeling particularly fancy, there are certain cocktails that pair specifically with different types of toddler tantrums. Now, I'm not saying we should all day-drink to deal with our kids*, but if you're going to, you might as well do it in style!
- Margarita. Light and fruity, these blended cocktails are often associated with Tex-Mex cuisine and lazy Summer afternoons. However, they also pair nicely with your toddler's everyday, run-of-the-mill, screaming-bloody-murder type tantrums. You know the kind; the ones that make your ears bleed. But I find the gentle hum of the blender works wonders for deadening the sound of their vitriol and unreasonable requests. Also, they are frequently served in fishbowl-sized glasses, so grab a straw, dig in your heels, and let the tantrums fly.
- Irish Coffee. For those 2 a.m. tantrums over twisted pajamas, warm drinking water, cold drinking water, wet drinking water, and lack of drinking water comes coffee with a splash of whiskey. Never mind the fact that mixing caffeine with a depressant like alcohol pretty much defeats the purpose of both; when you're running on exhaustion fumes and looking for a savior, you'll be wanting to kiss anyone Irish for inventing this cocktail.
- Cosmopolitan. The word cosmopolitan literally means "world traveler," but is there anything worse than when your toddler launches into Oscar-worthy theatrics on a crowded plane full of tired, angry passengers? Every flight I've ever been on with my children was one ear pop or gum-in-the-hair incident away from total nuclear destruction. On a plane, my kids live with their fingers on that button, and they know they have all the power. There may not be a wide selection of cocktails available on an airplane, but vodka and cranberry juice seems to be pretty standard. And once you've mixed it up, you can give the kids the tiny bottles to play with. You never know, it might buy you two minutes of peace.
- Whiskey Sour. Toddlers are not generally known for losing (or winning, for that matter) with grace. I've seen my 2-year-old launch into a hysterical fit of sour grapes because he lost a race with anything from a car driving down the street to the neighbor's cat to (and this is my personal favorite) his imaginary friend who, by the way, cheats. Every. Time. My son once threw a fit because he'd won a race. Sometimes in life there are no winners, only losers. But at least the bitters in a whiskey sour don't wind up in a puddle on your floor or materialize as snot on your sleeve.
- Martini. Everyone knows that James Bond preferred his martinis "shaken, not stirred," but I've discovered that moms, too, should embrace this one-handed cocktail for those times when your toddler insists on swinging upside down from your arm like a demented monkey. And if you're lucky, the sound of the ice clanking in the shaker might distract them long enough that they'll forget why they were mad in the first place. Win-win.
- Mimosa. Traditionally a classy brunch treat, mixing Champagne and orange juice is a perfect way to forget the fact that your toddler ate the rose petals at your cousin's wedding and is now lying in the middle of the aisle with red-stained lips and a tiny tuxedo like some kind of vampiric penguin. Sometimes you need something more sophisticated than your standard cocktail when your child ruins yet another fancy family affair.
- Sake. Technically a wine made from rice, this Japanese drink pairs well with both actual noodles and when your toddler turns into a noodle to avoid capture during a public tantrum. It's traditionally served in small clay cups, but I find that my daughter's tea set works just fine in a pinch.
- Long Island Iced Tea. There are two kinds of days when you are a parent with a crabby toddler: long days and days when there just isn't enough booze in the world. Those are the Long Island Iced Tea days, when the tantrums are flowing faster than the alcohol and you haven't left the house in three days. You're down to the dregs of the liquor cabinet, and every glass you own is dirty and sitting in the bottom of the sink. Those are the days when you pour everything you have into your sanity and into one of the nearly empty liquor bottles and plug your nose.
The art of tantrum-drinking may not be as fancy as wine pairing, but selecting the right cocktail for your toddler's tantrum is every bit as skillful.
*This article is meant as a humorous take on drinking and parenting, not as a genuine instructional guide or piece of advice. Alcoholism is not a joke, but sometimes parenting is. So let's all just have a laugh, shall we?