We just got back from a lovely fall break vacation in Gulf Shores. my boys love the ocean, the beach and especially SAND! So we knew they would have a good time. And boy, they did. But it was exhausting.
I came back to work this week and during staff meeting one of the other counselors asked me if I had a "vacation" or a "trip"? And I was like, "what"?? He explained the difference to me as a vacation is where you don't take your children. And I said, "oh, we took a trip, definitely. LOL.
I guess family "trips" are really for the benefit of the kids. I mean, we made great memories last week. Memories I hope my kids will remember forever. We saw the Blue Angels practice, my 6 year old was blown away. Griffin is 3, so I don't know if he will remember much about the trip, but I know every time he visits the beach he falls more and more in love with it and that is something he will carry with him forever.
We definitely had our highs and lows. Thankfully, the lowest low was on Tuesday. We had been at the beach and was coming in. Carter was especially hyper, not listening to anything we were saying. There was a family behind us and they had the calmest three year old. Here my kids were acting like wild men and he just stood there holding on to the wagon he was helping dad bring up from the beach. Ugh. Why can't my kids act like that???? I can't even remember what happened on the way to the elevator but I remember being embarrassed. When the boys got in the elevator and started fighting over who was going to push the button, Greg and I both lost it. Poor Carter. He gets the brunt of our frustration. Griffin does everything his big brother does so we get hyperactivity times 2!!! At the worst time!!! Ugh! We raised our voices and grabbed Carter's arm to get his attention. I am not sure what else happened, all I know is I felt like a big, fat failure.
I really felt defeated the rest of the night. I got up the next day and was reflecting on the previous days events and saw where the breakdown occurred. We (or I) should have stopped our family while we were leaving the boardwalk after rinsing our feet off and before we got to the elevator. We were tired, Greg an I had our hands full so it was difficult keeping a hand on the boys. We all needed a time out. But we kept pressing on. Add to the pressure I allowed to feel by this family behind me (who had seemingly perfect acting kids) and THAT prompted more of my frustration than my kids behavior.
Let me explain that. I had a big PRIDE issue. I was wanting my kids to show everyone we were good parents by acting the right way. If my kids act appropriate in front of other people I am a success. If not, that means I am a bad parent. What if they judge me, or talk about me? Why can't I train my children? All the negative thinking comes in and whispers lies into my ears. It raises my blood pressure so I react by saying things loudly or speaking through clenched teeth. It's not pretty. And afterwards all I feel is shame.
Once I looked at the situation I realized where communication broke down. Why we were frustrated and what we should have done differently. Loosing my patience or raising my voice doesn't really help train my kids.
So, I started training them. What do you do when an elevator opens?? We wait and make sure no one is getting off. We talked about being polite, waiting and taking turns, etc. We learned to take turns pushing the button to the elevator. The rest of the week we practiced these things. I remembered that I have to go touch Carter on the shoulder to get his attention when I am giving him a task or wanting him to respond. We have to repeat, repeat and repeat again.
So I don't have the calmest kids. Maybe I am judged more than other parents (or am I?). I love it when my kids cooperate and follow through on tasks and directions. But the truth is, that doesn't make me any better of a parent than their acting out in public makes me a bad parent. It's just that sometimes kids cooperate. Sometimes they don't. My job is to take each situation and use it to train or apply consequences so that maybe the next time they will remember. It's not a reflection on me. It's just part of the job. And some days, well, the job goes smoothly and sometimes it doesn't.
At least that is what I keep trying to tell myself.
Getting back to our vacation or "trip", the rest of the week went way smoother and Wednesday was the best day of vacation EVER!!! When you have small kids they aren't going to know how to act and certainly aren't going to act perfectly. What I hoped I learned from this is that each opportunity is a teaching opportunity and how I handle makes a difference in helping my kids learn how to behave.
Now to plan a VACATION, not a trip, for Greg and I! HA!!! Anyone want two kids for a long weekend???!!!! LOL!!!