Parenting is a journey; there’s no other way to describe it. There are so many highs and lows that it leaves you reeling. But one way that we all get through it is by knowing that we’re not alone. Enter Children Ruin Everything, the relatable new comedy from CTV and creator Kurt Smeaton (Letterkenny).
The show stars Aaron Abrams and Meaghan Rath as James and Astrid, a Toronto couple with two young kids, Viv (Mikayla SwamiNathan) and Felix (Logan Nicholson). The series debuted on January 12 (it also airs later this year on Roku), and speaks to the modern-day parenting plight: trying to “have it all” when having even most of it is nearly impossible.
How do you reconcile the person you used to be with the person having children has turned you into? In the first episode, this show covers all of that and more. Need more proof? Here’s everything that Children Ruin Everything understands—and gets right—about parenting.
You think it’s the newborn stage that keeps you up all night? Not even close. In the show’s opening scene we see James wake up in his son’s too-small bed next to a giant puddle of urine. He’s clearly had yet another sub-par night of shuteye, and now his bleary-eyed self gets to contend with one more load of laundry before heading into work. (The daily struggle is real.) In real life, many kids just don’t sleep through the night. They have nightmares, crawl into your bed randomly, or hate going to sleep in the first place. And it totally makes you pine for those newborn, Netflix-and-chill days.
If all those scenes of cereal and toys everywhere seemed a little too on-the-nose for you, well there’s a good reason. Kid are like little hurricanes that come in harder than Miley’s wrecking ball and break, strew, scatter and spew everything they possibly can. They can’t help it—their attention span is short-lived and their muscles are still developing, which means they do everything in a very extreme and messy way. You’ll try to stay on top of it, but eventually, you just give in.
If you’re a parent, you probably related hard to the “coffee is our time” bit in the first episode, in which Astrid and James were trying to have an important conversation and the kids interrupted them with a spat about red crayons. When you’re a parent with young kids having any adult time (watching an adult show, chatting about things other than Blippy) is a hot commodity. By the way, when you do get adult time, you’re usually too tired to actually enjoy it anyhow.
Kids cost money. We’re talking real, ongoing wads of cash. They suck you dry with their penchant for growing out of clothes and shoes way too fast, not to mention their need for endless snacks. Oh, and then there are all of the birthday parties, toys, educational items and other things you either need or feel pressured to need. Children Ruin Everything brought that concept into play right away in Episode 1 by reminding us all that before kids, you could (probably?) budget and spend your green on yourself. Post kids? Money always feels tight.
One of the biggest plots of the first episode is Astrid contemplating a return to work. The working-mom versus stay-at-home-mom plight is real, and both are valid options that other people seem to endlessly judge (enter Astrid’s sister, played by Nazneen Contractor, in the pilot). The reality is that many couples are in a situation where both parents have to work.
And sure, as a parent, it can feel good to know that your brain is being used for something other than new games to entertain the kids with or figuring out what’s for dinner (like, can it just be pickles and cheese cubes?). But going back to work also means you never quite feel like you’re giving 100 per-cent to any aspect of your life. (But we were told we can have it all, dammit!)
What would a show about a struggling but loving family be without that perpetually single best bud? Enter Ennis Esmer as Ennis, who is there to prove that there are definite benefits to the child-free existence. Like having money, clean clothes and a good eight hours of sleep a night. Oh, and your schedule can pivot without having to coordinate 16 other things to “make it work.” Basically, you can do what you want, when you want. Many parents have a friend like Ennis, and while we mostly love our chaotic, love-filled lives, sometimes it is harder not to low-key miss that responsibility-free way of being.
Hands up if you too were traumatized by the pig’s head in the butcher’s shop? Right, so you can’t blame Viv for being freaked out. But of course, we’re talking about a pre-schooler here—one that changes her mind hourly. So by dinner, she’s definitely back on the meat train. By breakfast, she’ll probably hop back off it. It’s a parenting rule that as soon as your kid loves something, say a cucumber, you’ll run out and buy three cucumbers for the week. Two of those cucumbers will grow milky because by the time the first one is done, your kid now hates the vegetable forever.
Bless our parents—they were once in our shoes (and they didn’t have tablets!). The hope is that grandparents will be a steady part of the family unit, but let’s be honest: most of them just want to drop by to spoil the kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does require extra work to get back on track after a visit. Take Astrid’s mom Nisha (Veena Sood) for example. In the pilot she gives the kids junk food for dinner and lets them watch scary adult movies, but then retreats home before the tummy aches and nightmares start.
If the kids in Children Ruin Everything seem like little monsters, that’s because kids that age really can be monsters. Obviously, they’re a bit extreme here for the sake of comedy, but as parents already know, one of your most important jobs is teaching them how to be civilized people. Little kids have big feelings and emotions, and their natural inclination is to yell, fight, scream and cause all-out mayhem. That’s why parents of more than one kid are well-aware of the one-on-one (two kids) versus zone defence (three or more kids) strategies. You’ve always got to be on your toes.
A doctor prescribing Felix a fart in Episode 1 may be the most relatable thing ever to those parents who have dealt with gassy babes. And if not, odds are you have another embarrassing medical story involving your kid. She’s swallowed a quarter and it’s sitting in her esophagus? Oh, that’s happened to us. Nurse needs to glue his head because he got a little excited trying to call Santa on the smart home and fell? We’ve all been there.
Does Astrid really want a third child or does she have baby fever? Time will tell, but can you really judge her for wanting that newborn smell back in her life? Of course not. Babies are incredible beings that wholly rely on you for everything in that sweet, inate and therapeutic way. You’re exhausted as heck and haven’t eaten a meal with two hands in months, but that period of life really is magical. Usually, the thing that snaps you out of such feverish thinking is knowing all of the exhausting work ahead.
Despite everything—the lack of sleep, clean house, free time, ability to do what you want—your life is fulfilled in new and unfathomable ways. Sure, you cried in the bathroom for 20 minutes earlier because your kid dumped a pot of pasta, you’re on deadline, and your partner was MIA, but when your child comes in for a snuggle and tells you that they love you, all of those hard and exhausting moments suddenly melt away. It’s love unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, and it reminds you why you got into this parenting game in the first place.
Children Ruin Everything airs Wednesdays at 8pE on CTV, CTV.ca and the CTV app. Missed the first episode? Get into it now.
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