Saturday, June 15, 2013

Trying to Please Everyone is Dumb

Take it from me.  I tried it yesterday.  My youngest woke up with a slight crust around his eyes and, after a call to the doctor, I was pretty sure he had pink eye.  I made an appointment for 11:15 and tried to figure out what to do with all the plans we had already made for that day.  With one kid, this kind of thing was easier.  Clear the schedule.  End of story.  With two, there are multiple needs to be met.

It was the last day of camp at the aquarium and, of course, they saved the coolest thing for last.  They were going to give the kids nets to walk through Sarasota Bay and try to catch little ocean creatures.  My oldest had not forgotten about the plan.  I walked out of my room and saw his little head pop up from behind the couch.  "We get to go swimming in the bay today!  Can I wear my water shoes - the ones that you can wear in the water - the ones that are supposed to go in the water?  Do you think there will be real fish?  Will we see dolphins?  Can I swim, too?"  At that moment, I had a choice to make.  Do I help him have a lesson in selflessness?  Should I help him to work through disappointment so that he can grow in his maturity?  Or do I try to please everyone?

You already know how this story ends.  I tried to please everyone when I really should have just told my oldest that his brother was sick and we couldn't go.  Here's how it all went down.

We left the house at 8 AM packed with snacks, sunscreen and bathing suits.  (Thanks to my amazing husband, everything was ready to go.)  We drove 30 minutes to the aquarium and decided to do our own day in the bay.  The whole way I was thinking about how perfect this was going to be.  A quick walk around the bay, change of clothes, and off to the doctor without missing a beat.  And it did start that way.  The water and my children were calm and we spent time walking through the shallow bay looking for fish and crabs.  And then it wasn't so calm and beautiful.

My little one tripped and fell into the water face first and wanted to be held.  I didn't have a change of clothes but I still had to pick up my scared toddler and take one for the team.  When I looked up, my oldest had walked 50 yards into the bay without me even noticing.  When I set the boundaries for him, he walked right by me and splashed me in the face.  Time out for him.  He came back into the water for a few more minutes when I realized I needed to get everyone changed to get to the doctor.  I started changing my little one outside but he kept running toward the busy road every time I turned my head.  I decided we were better off going into the teaching building at the aquarium.  Safer and less sandy.

We made it inside only for my oldest to find all his classmates getting ready for camp.  He changed then took off like a bandit into the classroom.  I followed with my half dressed toddler only to hear my oldest announcing to the teacher, "Guess what!  Drew has a fever and pink eye and we have to take him to the doctor right now!"

Every mother in that room turned to look at me in horror.  I had done the unthinkable - brought a sick kid to a children's event.  "He doesn't have a fever, it's okay.  I'm not sure he has pink eye...we're leaving for the doctor now...Nice to meet everyone!" I stammered as I tried to get my oldest out of there.  There was an audible sigh of relief when I ushered both boys out of the room.

In the end, we made it to the doctor and he did have pink eye.  And an ear infection.  And his mama was exhausted and strung out.  When I had time to think about it, I realized that it would have been so much better to let my oldest know we could go to the bay another time.  Even if he was disappointed, it would have been a good lesson for him and a much easier day on both my toddler and me.  So the next time you are tempted to please everyone, remember that often times, you are the one that is left unhappy.  It's okay to let them down sometimes if you keep yourself sane.  At least that's what I'm going to tell myself the next time I'm pulled in too many directions.

What helps you to manage multiple kids' needs at the same time?  How do you teach your children to handle disappointment?

1 comment:

  1. It's hard with multiple kids. I try to make sure my oldest doesn't get left out since his younger brother is at a stage where he needs a lot of attention :) I agree with you that you can't please everyone all the time!

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