Which, you know, basically means "any parent that reads this."
Or, it doesn't even have to be a parent. Anyone who has an opinion about kids should feel free to weigh in. A teacher, a counselor, a babysitter. Or even anyone who raises, say, hamsters. Because you never know. Maybe someone with hamsters has the same problem and has found a better way to handle it.
This is actually a problem we run into year-round, but I know from experience that will only get worse now that summer is officially here.
In a nutshell, I like to stay busy with my kids. And since we have so much more free time in the summer, I have a tendency to plan way more stuff. Water parks, museums, local swimming pools, movies, bowling, playdates .... you name it, we typically have *something* planned every day. Not necessarily something that costs money, I'm all about parks and riding bikes and those kinds of activities as well.
I always have these high expectations, and visions of how these things will pan out. In my vision, my children are laughing, happy, grateful little munchkins who are always on their best behavior and smile and say thank you and frequently help little old ladies cross the street.
In reality ........... well ............ you know how it goes.
Seems inevitably *someone* is tired or crabby or frustrated. And nothing ruins the mood faster than a whiny, ungrateful little brat.
I'm totally not above canceling plans mid-stream if I don't like the way the kids are behaving. Case in point: last Sunday, the kids wanted icees after church. Half way to 7-11 they were arguing and sniping with one another in the car, so I made it a point to drive right past 7-11 without stopping, then go on home, telling them exactly why they weren't getting a treat that day. Usually there is outraged protest, then complaining that it was so-and-so's fault, then wheedling and pleading, then grudging acceptance.
But sadly, the lesson never seems to stick, and before too much longer, I'm canceling plans again.
Quite frankly, it really pisses me off.
My dilemma, however, is how to handle these situations during the summer, when more often than not, other people are involved as well.
If I've let the kids each invite a friend to the movies, and one kid is being argumentative right off, do I call all three friends and cancel the entire day? Then five kids are being punished for the behavior of one.
Now that we live near family, I've considered dropping the offender off at Grandma's and going about our day with the kids who behaved ... but I hate for Grandma's house to be equated with "punishment", and truth be told, Grandma Betty has a life of her own and I'm not sure it would be feasible to assume she can provide last minute baby-sitting for whichever kid is acting ugly.
And then do I have to UN-invite the friend? Or do I honor the invitation we've extended, and take the friend without my child?
What if I've already rsvp'd for a birthday party, or had another mom invite my child out to do something, and THEN my kid acts up? Do I mess up someone else's plans by canceling?
If our family has planned to go to the lake for the weekend, and I've already bought all the groceries and told our hosts we will be there, I don't want to cancel. And I certainly can't leave one kid behind.
What if I've paid in advance for an event, or pre-purchased tickets, and they are acting so bad I don't want to go? Do I make the child pay me back? And then *I'm* mad because everyone's plans were ruined?
What if we're meeting another family for an activity? What if *I* instigated the event? Do I then call the other mom and say, "Sorry, I know this whole afternoon was my idea, but my kids are being brats and we're not coming" ??
I think that's exactly what I *should* do, but in truth, I have a hard time doing it. Not because I'm embarrassed to admit my kids are mis-behaving (anyone who KNOWS my kids knows it happens) but because I feel GUILT when other people are involved.
And I think my kids know it.
So they mis-behave, and I get angry, and they apologize, and we go on about our day. And normally, we have a very good time doing whatever it is we have planned to do.
But there's no incentive to stop them from arguing and whining and complaining again the next time.
Does anyone else experience this at all?
How do you punish one without punishing them all?
And what about when other families or kids are included?
Honestly, I think my kids GET so much, that sometimes they forget to be grateful for it, and forget to appreciate it. Threatening to take away a swim date isn't that big a deal, because we go swimming several times a week.
How do people manage this?
(No, really, that's not a rhetorical question ... I really would like to know.)
Probably part of the problem is me, overscheduling my children. Maybe if they sat at home more often, they'd appreciate getting to do the fun things. But I feel like I sat at home so long with Kendrie, when she was too sick to get out and do much. Now, I don't want to miss a single opportunity for fun.
But really, it's not much fun when they're fussing and fighting before we're even out the door. Sometimes I feel like I'm begging them to act nice, so *I* can have the pleasure of taking *them* to do something fun.
Anyone else? Anyone????