August 16, 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want (But You Get What You Need)

This weekend we drove to Pennsylvania to hang out with the Amish. It was a spur of the moment thing. Beth and I hatched the plan on Tuesday or Wednesday. We were pretty proud of ourselves.

Up to a point.

We left Saturday morning and before we reached neighborhood escape velocity, the kids were tormenting each other. It became one of those if you don't stop now I'm going to turn this car around* kind of moments. We persevered...and ran into traffic. Obscene Washington, D.C. traffic the likes of which other parts of the country rarely sees since the powers that be decided to tackle three separate major transportation projects at the exact. same. time. We passed our first horse-drawn buggy four hours later. Which is when my children - who I love more passionately than I love anything else on this great earth - became obnoxious on a scale rarely seen in kids who aren't child stars. We did touristy stuff - had lunch, made barns, rode buggies - but these were all punctuated with threats about the trouble they'd both be in if they didn't shape up**. Which included going home first thing in the morning without spending the next day at the amusement park they'd been hoping to visit.

The straw that broke the parents' backs came late in the evening when neither would go to sleep. More consequences were discussed and after a while everything settled down. We all got up the next morning, had breakfast, then we packed the car and headed home. No amusement park. Children were devastated. Parents were too.

The second we got home, we had lunch, the children changed into old clothes and worked in the yard. They pulled weeds. They thought about what they'd done*** and they sweated and they got filthy. But they did it.

I took Monday and Tuesday off - as planned - and we had a wonderful time. We spent Monday hiking around a lake and playing in a water park. We went to an IMAX movie and wandered around a museum followed by some insanely intense bouncing at an indoor trampoline place on Tuesday. It was awesomeness. It almost erased the terrible weekend. The weekend where the kids called a bluff and we had to follow through.

I've said it before - parenting isn't easy. It's so hard not to give your kids everything they want. But you can't always do that.

* I actually said this. Swear. I felt 90.
** Yes, I said this too. About a thousand times.
*** I'm not proud of the fact that I said that too.

Posted by Chris at August 16, 2012 7:16 AM

We did the same thing about 10 years ago...loaded the boys in the car to go to Six Flags and they started hitting each other before we even rolled out of the driveway. We pulled the car back in and told everyone to get out. We didn't go! The best parenting point we ever made. My oldest is 16 and he still remembers the disappointment he felt but he learned a lesson...don't piss your parents off when their getting ready to drive for 3 hours and spend a couple of hundred bucks!

Posted by: Jenn at August 16, 2012 9:25 AM

I've had to do it (on a much smaller scale)'s sucks, but they learn, they do learn!

Posted by: cyndy at August 16, 2012 9:50 AM

It sucks to do that but slow clap for you are parents. Too many parents make empty threats to try and get their children to behave. They don't, the parents don't follow through on the threat and the kids never learn. No one likes taking stuff away from kids but this will be a lesson they remember and next time you threaten something, this will ring in their mind that maybe you aren't playing around.

Posted by: Darren at August 16, 2012 11:14 AM

Awww......was it Hershey Park? We were just there beginning of the month. Lots of fun, although I cried for my mommy on one of the big roller coasters!

That first time following through on a big threat is the worst one. If you're lucky, it makes enough of an impression that you never have to do it again.

Posted by: Traci at August 16, 2012 12:39 PM

Kudos to you for not giving in! I know it can't be easy, but not sticking to your word when it comes to consequences for bad behavior is how brats happen.

Posted by: Fraulein N at August 16, 2012 12:53 PM

Kudos to you for not giving in! I know it can't be easy, but not sticking to your word when it comes to consequences for bad behavior is how brats happen.

Posted by: Fraulein N at August 16, 2012 12:55 PM

Major props to you for sticking to your word. This is will be a lesson the kids will not soon forget.

Posted by: Elissa at August 16, 2012 1:15 PM

a trip to remember :) :) :)

Posted by: kati at August 16, 2012 3:17 PM

As you discovered, sometimes, those things need to be said.

Ask my 14 year old about not going to Disneyland. Yep. His bad behavior meant we didn't go see The Mouse. I was so disappointed and wished I hadn't threatened that - but I did. I'm glad I kept my word. 14 still says "Mom MEANS what she says."

I'm so glad Monday and Tuesday was fun.

Posted by: Mindy at August 16, 2012 6:22 PM

A friend did that once with 3 kids from CT to Washington DC. just turned the car around. Gotta do what you gotta do - good for you (sucks you missed the amusement park though!) but glad it got better.

Posted by: NancyB at August 16, 2012 8:32 PM

I sincerely hope, in a similar situation, my husband and I will have the strength to make the same call. Good job.

Posted by: Angela at August 21, 2012 3:08 PM