To be honest, it didn’t start well. The 11 year-old’s surfboard channeled too much wind and snapped before we’d even hit the main highway. There were tears at the devastation: his father had given it to him for Christmas and he’d yet to use it. It didn’t help that after moving the surfboards inside the car, I then accidentally shut the car door on his ankle. Calm apologies were made, and eventually accepted. (We bought a new surfboard a few days later.)
I was resolute. This trip had been a year in the planning: I felt it was the last chance I had to whisk the almost 15 year-old away for a long road trip; the accommodation had been booked for months, and there was a long overdue extended family gathering for Christmas planned.
So now we had three children, myself, all our gear, Christmas stuff and two surfboards in the car. The atmosphere settled and the first three hour drive of the adventure begun. It’s probably an asset that I hadn’t overthought the whole thing. Over 3000 km (A little more than 2000 miles) of travelling in the space of three weeks with three boys who are all respectful and strong-willed, polite and assertive, tall for their ages and cramped, and excited and easily annoyed by each other.
I must have been mad.
The adventures were great: rising at dawn to go and dig holes in the sand where boiling-hot geothermal water rises between the tide lines; roller-coaster rides and rides that made someone’s 48 year-old inner-ear fluid spin for hours; bush walks to see ancient trees, one with the girth of a water-tank; climbing a sand dune to boogie-board down; historic sites and wharf jumping near the two oldest buildings in the country; family and more family; rivers and lakes and swimming pools, and swimming on both coasts and fishing; a 70s party with the shiniest pants and the longest sideburns I’d seen in years; New Year’s in a flash hotel with room service and valet parking; barefoot games of pool in a pub and being invited to compete against the locals; and river rock-sliding on airbeds, including a few epic wipe outs.
The boys tell me it was 80% fun and worth doing, but please let’s not do it that way again.
For me, it was both wonderful and terrible. There were times when it was insanely exhausting. When we arrived somewhere, no matter how ratty we all were, there was a car to be unpacked and food to be found – at the very least fresh milk to be bought for the morning, and it was all my responsibility. There was washing to be done every few days and maps to be read, the car to be filled with petrol on long stretches of road with few service stations, and the budget to be managed, and it was all my responsibility. We took detours we shouldn’t have, had nights with inadequate sleep and we all had tantrums, and I was the only one who could sort it all out.
I had one night of adulting thanks to two wonderful cousins who kidnapped me and took me dancing, and my lovely aunt and uncle who babysat.
It was a one-off adventure, and I’m very aware that we are lucky we had the opportunity to do it. I am pleased I chose to spend the money I saved so ardently on seeing a chunk of our country, rather than heading overseas. We made some great memories and will have stories to retell for years to come. As for the surfing: 3000 kms with surfboards in the car, and because of the waves we encountered, they used them once. Mad. I tell you.
Have you ever traveled a long way with children alone? Was it easier than you imagined it would be?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Karyn Willis.
Last week, my six year-old threw a very loud, very intense and very public tantrum. He threw it because I said, No, to a treat that I wasn’t prepared to buy for him. And yes, I did explain why I said, No.
My saying, No, is not a new experience for him. He is familiar with the word and knows what it means. He is intelligent and articulate and understood my reasons for saying, No. I wasn’t too bothered by his outburst. I knew he would get through it and we would be on good terms again by the time we reached home. What was fascinating, to me, was other people’s reactions.
I really, really wish more people understood than these willful tantrums, what I’ve always called Processing Tantrums operate the same as the mourning process. It’s a process to be supported through, not stopped in some way to make me or others feel better.
My son, while in public, was initially in the Denial and then Anger and Bargaining stages. Like the mourning process, he oscillated between them but, because I held the, No, position but was emotionally as supportive as he would allow – mostly through calm words as he wouldn’t let me touch him – by the time we were five minutes away from the store, he hit the Sad stage and a minute later was in Acceptance.
But of course, the people in the store never saw those bits. They just saw the screaming and defiant child and drew their own conclusions. Most kept their opinions to themselves. Some were verbally supportive toward me or used body-language to show they understood. One woman meant very well but managed to irritate me more than the six year-old tantrum.
She told me not to be embarrassed. And seemed quite shocked when I said I wasn’t in the slightest bit embarrassed. Not one ounce of embarrassment was felt by me.
My children are not me. I am not my children and I am certainly not my children’s behaviors. My children are well nurtured, well fed, get loads of sleep, explore and take risks often, have great rituals and firm boundaries. I do my job of parenting them to the best of my ability and they’re turning out just fine.
Their job is to use me as their home base. Their job is to seek comfort from me when they choose to do so. Their job is to move away from me as they desire, at their own pace, in varying amounts as they are so driven. Their job is to learn that things don’t always go their way but they can survive that process and be, not only okay but also have a better understanding of their world and how to reasonably accommodate others, when it’s all over. Their job is to complete the mourning process when they hear that word, No.
I hate to think what would happen if my boys did not learn to properly process, now as children, with my support and understanding. Would they end up being abusive partners because they couldn’t respect the personal boundaries of others? Would they think they were above the law? Would they end up depressed because they got low grades, for what is a low grade but A. Would they stop taking chances and blame everything and everyone else in the world for their inadequacies? I suspect they would. I know plenty of adults who have these characteristics in their personalities.
So, if you see my boys throwing tantrums be assured I am comfortable with the short-term stress of supporting them through those times. They are processing.
I believe it’s worth the short-term pain for the long-term gain of raising kids with character. Their anti-social moments are not their permanent states.
And, really, truly, any tantrums they throw do not embarrass me. I am not my children’s behavior. I am their mother and their lighthouse.
Have you ever had a child tantrum in public? How was that for you? How did other people react?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Karyn Wills of Napier, New Zealand.
Photo Credit to Mindaugas Danys
Welcome to 2014! As we bid farewell to 2013 with all of its ups and downs, we are ready to look forward to the year ahead of us. Some of our World Moms have shared their resolutions. Read and enjoy, and add your own resolutions in the comments!
The European Mama from The Netherlands: Learn to read sheet music and play the piano. Have one or more of my blog posts published on a high quality website. Get paid for my posts. Learn more about blogging. Be a better parent. This mama has blogged about her resolutions.
Nicole @ Sistersfromanothermister from Florida, USA: In 2014 I need to find my center. My world seems as though it has been upside down for so long, I need to center my life to focus on what is most important. I need to take care of myself, so that I can take care of others. I need to strive for change on what I can control and let go of all that is beyond that control. And the relationship I have with my girls is all that I make it, and I cannot ‘fix that for anyone else’.
Tara B. from Washington, USA: Play more!
Mrs. P. Cuyugan from the Philippines: I need to seriously de-clutter. Our stuff is all over the house, my email inboxes (yes, all of them) are out of control, everything is just out of order. Even my thought process is messed up. I need to get rid of a lot of junk and try to sort things out and make sense of everything in my life right now. That’s my promise to myself for 2014.
Maureen @ Scoops Of Joy from Indonesia: My 2014 resolution is to focus on my health even more. I’m fighting uterine fibroids and changing my way of eating to avoid surgery so that will be the center of my 2014.
Susan Koh from Singapore: My mantra for 2014- Less Stuff, More Life. I’m aiming to find contentment with what I have, decluttering and purging what I don’t need in my life from toxic friendships to too many cereal boxes that I think I’ll need for crafts with my daughter.
Jennifer Burden from New Jersey, USA: There is one person that I could be spending more time with lately…my husband! My resolution is to make more couple time this year! And family hikes with the kids! And I was thinking the other day that I really want to drive a race car, a totally new desire for me. Not sure if the race car is for this year’s or another year’s resolution yet. I’ll let you know!
Sarah Hughes from New Jersey, USA: I want to step back this year and slow down. Less non-family responsibilities (other than work) and be absolutely 100% present in the moments with my children. Oh and I need to lose 15 pounds, it’s a must!
Karyn @ Kloppenmum from New Zealand: To eat cake, drink wine and have as much fun as is humanly possible.
Mom Photographer from California, USA: Exercise more. Organize more. Eat more. Reading books, more. Being more happy with what I have instead of thinking about and longing for what I don’t have. And funny thing, because driving a racing car is on my bucket list, Jennifer, and just as you, I am not sure if it’s doable in 2014 but definitely sometime in the future.
Elizabeth Atalay from Rhode Island, USA: I am not big on New Years Resolutions, as is evident in the same 10lbs I’ve been talking about losing for years now! That said, Family, friends and travel are paramount, but I’d like to connect the dots a bit more, and this year I intend to start making mini-documentaries as digital content,oh, and I’d like to really make a positive difference in the world through my work somehow.
Mama Aya from New York, USA: To find some time for me! I have been really burnt out lately between the kids, working full time, traveling for work, de-cluttering so that we can sell our place and move, etc. It is affecting everything in my life including my relationships with my husband/mother/friends and is causing me much stress. I resolve to do things for myself, like spend time at the gym or go for a manicure, regularly so that I can be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend!
Mamma Simona from South Africa: My resolution last year was to stop making resolutions!
Kirsten @ Running For Autism from Canada: To give myself permission to follow my dreams instead of neglecting my passions so that others can shine. To understand that there is room for what I want to accomplish while still being supportive of my husband and children.
K10K from Belgium: I have two. (1) I will finally finish at least one of the books I am writing and find the courage to send them to a publisher. (2) I will hide an encouraging or funny little note or drawing in my kids’ lunchboxes once a week.
World Moms Blog wishes moms all over the world a happy and fulfilling 2014. So, tell us your New Years resolutions!
Photo credit: toolmantim. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
March 5th 2013 was Census Day in New Zealand, and it was the first that our boys were really involved with. This was a re-scheduled Census due to the February 22nd (2011) earthquake in Christchurch, which had put the country into a state of emergency. (8th March 2011 had been the original scheduled date)
We hold a Census every five years and it is illegal to not fill in a form or to fill in forms with incorrect information. The data is used by central government, local government, iwi (Maori tribal groups), businesses and community groups for strategic planning and budget allocation. We have the option of filling them out on paper or on line and we can chose to have forms in either English or Maori.
The boys were very excited, and immediately after dinner was cleared away, the one (how does that happen?) blue pen in the house was found. It was heartening to see the older boys both knew their full names, address, previous address, dates of birth etc and the three year-old was able to tell me his full name too. On asking him where he lived, he looked at me as if I had gone insane and said, Here. When I asked him where he used to live, he said matter of factly, “In our town house.” (I must work on that – the other two could easily rattle off their address and phone number at the same age.) (more…)
Having spent seven years reading about how the human brain works, I am very passionate about restricting our boys’ out of school formal activities. Our ten year-old is only in his second year of playing field hockey and his second year of learning to play the piano. He also chose to learn the Double Bass this year, although I suspect that won’t top his list of things-to-do next year. We haven’t rushed our boys into learning to read (although storytelling and listening to stories are fundamental parts of our day) and we love that they go to a school where homework is limited.
But there is one out of school activity I insist our children participate in for 10 years or more: swimming lessons. (more…)