Sometimes being right is far less important than just having fun

I admit it, sometimes I feel like I’m so caught up in trying to be a good, consistent father, always able to look at what I’m doing and relate it to some good parenting strategy or another that I forget to just have fun and relax.
Today was a perfect example of this inanity. We’d spent the day at a friend’s house, lots of fun, but my 8yo daughter A- was highly disappointed that the older girls that we were visiting were having a sleepover tonight and she wasn’t invited. I can understand that, I’d be pretty bummed by that too.
On the way home, we decided to get dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack, a place we usually avoid because it’s noisy and the food is pretty mediocre at best. But A- really wanted to go and after she burst into tears we decided two disappointments were too many.


Since the baby had just fallen asleep and Linda wasn’t particularly hungry, we decided that I’d take A- and G- (our 5yo) in, and she’d hang out in the car with the sleeping angel.
It was a disaster just waiting to happen, both kids were exhausted and as we’re trying to limit cheese and dairy intake (due to allergies) there was going to be a hassle with ordering too.
My solution is just to read out the options on the menu that I’d be okay with them eating, and when you subtract fried food, cheese, and beef (which they don’t like), there was a big fat zero left. So, instead, I suggested “fish and chips” and got two reluctant yes votes.
Then it was served and it was darn lackluster, particularly for a restaurant that prides itself on fresh seafood. And therein was the problem: G- didn’t want to eat the fish, just the french fries.
Then a balloon sculptor (what do you call those folk who tie and twist balloons into different figures anyway?) started walking around the restaurant and I, instead of saying “let’s have some balloons, kids!” said “G-, if you eat some of your fish, you can have a balloon.”
He wouldn’t eat his fish, and wanting to be completely consistent, I wouldn’t back down. Stupid, stupid.
We left, everyone was grumbly, and we didn’t have any balloons.
And at bed time, both kids were still complaining about the balloons that they wanted, but didn’t get.
Sometimes being right is far, far less important than being relaxed, being consistent less important than having fun.
Bah. Next time, we’ll get the balloons.

5 comments on “Sometimes being right is far less important than just having fun

  1. I dont know, I think you did the right thing by not getting them balloons.
    Its not that you werent “willing” to have fun, but that they had to atleast attempt to earn it. They’ll get over it. And the next time you have to tell them to eat first, they will know you mean it.

  2. We all have bad days,even kids. The balloons would have been a great distraction from the 8yo’s disappointment & would have sent the message that even if we don’t always get what we want, we can still enjoy the day in another way. The bottom line is teaching them to look for good things in life, not focus on our disappointments.
    Thanks for the story. I sometimes get too rigid too & so I appreciate the lesson in your experience.

  3. the whole Crab shack situation seems like a lot of inconvenience and displeasure in the name of avoiding dissappointment — won’t she just feel guilty that her insistence did not pan out into a good experience at Joes? I think I would have avoided Joe’s even if it led to her disappointment, and offered somthing else that would be a treat for her AND everyone — perhaps a take-home dinner of supermarket sushi and a special family video night with popcorn and gummy bears…

  4. It is the hardest thing to decide. when to give in and let em have the ballons and when to hang tough.
    I give in too much myself. They need, in fact, sometimes I think they really grave that firm hand. my two cents.

  5. Thanks for your addition, Carter. I think that knowing when to be firm and when to be forgiving is one of the toughest ongoing challenges of parenting. If you’re never forgiving, you’ll be a drill sergeant and raise kids who hate you, but if you’re never firm, well, then you’re just a doormat for your children’s whims. Both sound terrible.

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