An Open Letter to My Children
Dear Andrew and Jordan,
You are on summer vacation! That sounds like fun. We’ve got a lot of fun things planned for this summer, and I think you’ll really enjoy them. There’s also lots of opportunities for unplanned fun — things like running out for soft serve or staying up past your bedtime. All you have to do is play your cards right.
Auntie Jessie taught me something important about parenting pretty soon after I became a parent, and it’s a lesson I try to remember. It was a pretty simple rule:
“Never hand out a punishment or consequence that’s a bigger pain for you than it is for the children.”
Words to live by.
What she means is this: if you’re running around the house all day screaming and fighting, it’s very tempting to say, “That’s it! No TV this afternoon!” But that’s a terrible idea, because it’s more of a punishment for me than it is for you. You’ll continue to run around the house screaming, and I will lose that hour of relative quiet when I can take a breath and actually make some headway into preparing a meal. You watching TV for an hour is my reward, not yours.
This brings us to a topic I have not mentioned to you. There is a drive-in movie theatre a very short drive from our house. That movie theatre is showing Monsters University this weekend. Do I need to say anything else? Let’s be clear: I would like to take you to see Monsters University at an actual, honest-to-god, drive-in movie theatre.
Your daddy has never been to a drive-in. Not once. When I was a kid, by the time my parents decided I was grown up enough to stay up and go to a drive-in, they had all closed down. Except for the one near us, where I’d like to take you. But that one only showed porn when I was a kid. Never mind.
Anyway, you might think that going to a drive-in would fall squarely within Auntie Jessie’s rule. I shouldn’t cancel a trip to something I’d like to do because you aren’t behaving. But Auntie Jessie’s rule doesn’t cover everything.
So here’s Daddy’s Rule:
“If you want me to take you a drive-in movie, you need to create a day — just one day! — where the idea of letting you stay up three hours past your bedtime does not make me want to jab an ice pick into my ear.”
Let’s work on that, shall we?
Posted on June 28, 2013, in Parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
Just found your blog! I’m enjoying reading your posts and seeing what we have to look forward to in a few years. I will add you to our blog list on our blog! Cheers!
I watched my sister learn this lesson the hard way with her daughters. They were visiting, up with us in MA from VA, and one of the girls wouldn’t put on her shoes. Her response? “Put them on now or we’re going home!” Really, if she doesn’t listen you’re going to spend 2 hours packing back up, then 8 driving back to Virginia?
Oh my I still don’t watch horror movies and I’m 57 y/o. I can vividly remember the movie I watched when I was a kid on Sunday afternoon it was called “The Blob”. I still remember what scared me so much that I never would watch Sunday afternoon movies again in the late 60’s. I blame it on all of the Science Fiction I read. Or maybe I was just a too sensitive of a boy.
Oh and I just love the blog. I just found it from a link on the Huffington Post!
Have only just discovered your blog Mark and I really did enjoy reading it, especially about the drive in movie theatre (we unfortunately don’t get the weather for them in the UK)