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.