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I don’t know why I thought it would end any other way. It had been set up perfectly. The collapse was inevitable. The flow of emotions would fill up like a fire hose, only to find a kink before it’s certain explosion. The impending meltdown could have been predicted by any adult who had ever been a child. Kids are that way, especially when tired. You already know this, but allow me to feel like I know something.
We were on family vacation, there were nine of us. We were at the beach, as the kids enjoyed the week off from school for fall break. Five adults and four children had spent the entire day “relaxing”, the way that many Americans relax.
We cooked breakfast, gathered swimsuits, cleaned up, packed up, forgot chairs, applied lotion, wrestled slippery kids, lost beach toys, found beach toys, rolled in sand, washed off sand, re-applied sand, and don’t forget lotion. We watched them build sandcastles, and we watched them be destroyed. We lost kids. We found kids. We sent them to play with other kids, and pawned them off on whomever would take responsibility. We told them “no”, and apologized for their behavior. We fed them sugar, and wondered why they were hyper. We held hands, and we pointed fingers. We told them we loved them, and tried not to kill them. Stop pouting, quit biting, no throwing, no whining. Let her use it, give it back, be nice, and have fun. Give me ten minutes. Where is your sister? Did your mom say you could eat that? Where are my keys, and have you seen my sunglasses?
All of this beautiful madness, mixed in with some relaxation, some sunshine, some heat exhaustion, and some mini-golf.
What does mini-golf have to do with anything?
It’s 8pm, after a long, hot day. My 10 year old, Grayson, is having some trouble with his mini-golf game. With each stroke, each hole, and each missed putt, I can see the frustration building in his young body. He is fighting off the urge to explode or break down, and we try to encourage him and lift his spirits. We pray during each stroke, “God help this ball to find the hole.” It is painful to watch. He is young, he is tired, and his golf game is sucking hind tit.
As we reach the 11th hole, Grayson has had enough. As his sixth putt rims out of the cup, he begins to cry. I give him a moment, then ask him what’s the matter. I try to be nurturing, but I can only take so much. I ask him if he can tell me just exactly what is bothering him, but he can’t really, at this point, put words with his feelings. Amanda, as usual, is more calm and sympathetic. She gives him some examples, when she has broken down, just the same.
As he continued to cry, my frustration was continuing to build. I knew this was coming. I knew this was gonna happen. After a few holes of carrying on, I leaned over, grabbed his arm, and said, “knock it off. toughen up. stop pouting.” I informed him that he was ruining it for everybody. I told him that mini-golf was not a legitimate reason to have this sort of melt-down. I told him that his behavior was unacceptable. I told him that if he wants to do better, he should concentrate and try harder. I told him that he needs to suck it up, and get control. I don’t him that he was acting like a child. I told him that he should be more respectful of the people around him. I told him to grow up.
After a while, naturally, he got a hold of himself. He was settled, but I was still pissed. He apologized, but I wasn’t through puffing out my chest. I was still upset. I needed more time. I wasn’t quite able to knock it off, toughen up, or stop pouting. I wasn’t quite through expressing my dissatisfaction with my child, being childish, over a childish game.
That evening, I couldn’t help but think,
“who has more growing up to do?”
“who was acting out of line?”
“who was being more childish?”
I saw all of this as being Grayson’s fault. He had made me mad, and dampened everyone else’s good time.
I remembered a friend of mine reminding me that,
“no one can make you feel anything”.
The blame was irrelevant…the responsibility was mine.
Grayson was just being a kid. I was being a jerk. There is nothing wrong wrong with a child expressing emotion, a competitive spirit- especially when he is completely exhausted. I don’t fault him for having passion, and a desire to be better. There is something wrong with an adult allowing a child be the scapegoat for his childish behavior. There is something wrong with allowing the behavior of someone else allow you to to act rudely, offensively, or in an immature fashion.
No one can pass the buck like I can. When it comes to responsibility, I have never lost a game of hot potato. There are many people, places, and things that I can “blame” for my situation or my attitude, but there is always only one person “responsible” for how I conduct myself. I can dress it up, and make it look and sound any way that I want it to, but at the end of the day, my emotions and how I conduct myself is a choice that is strictly mine.
I hope you have a great day. Remember, no one “makes you sound like…makes you look like..makes you feel like…” anything. That is your responsibility. Own your own stuff and…
“don’t put your keys to happiness in somebody else’s pocket”
—(I have no idea who said that)
Peace, Love, and all thing Beef related,
I’m older, but I think all adults have done this. We just haven’t dwelled on it as much as you did, here. This was a good read. Thank you for reminding me that children are NOT little adults. I actually used to lecture my kids all the way to the restaurants we went to when they were younger. “Mind your manners. No running around. Don’t raise your voices…” etc., etc. No wonder they were never so keen on going out to eat.
I love, love, love, this comment. I appreciate your insight. Sometimes, I feel like I turn every moment into a life lesson with my 10 year old, instead of just allowing him to be a ten year old. I guess it’s control, or something. Anyway, I really like what you said here.
Wilson, you are just learning to be a Great Dad. Hang in there, Grayson will show you how. . .
Thank you! Im counting on it.