Monday, August 6, 2007

Dissatisfaction

So lately, Jacob has been expressing a bit of dissatisfaction with what we do together as a family. Of course, what he is saying has seemingly come out of nowhere.....and I have to admit....it hurts a little. Just the other day, we had a conversation that went something like this-
J: Mom, why don't we do the fun things other families do?
Me: What do you mean?
J: Like, we never go tubing.
Me: Jacob, we don't have a boat. That is why I let you go tubing with Eric. You still got to go.
J: I know, but we never do things.
Me: Like what, honey?
J: We never go to the water park.
Me: I thought you don't like the water that much. And Nathan isn't that great in the water yet, either. Wouldn't being at a water park make you a little uncomfortable? I thought maybe you'd rather spend time doing other things.
J: I don't know. We don't go to Six Flags, either.
Me: We went two years ago. You are right, we haven't been back. But we did go to Disneyworld this year. That was a big deal.
J: But it wasn't Six Flags. All we do is sit around the house.
Me: What about all the things you have done with friends this summer? Like the sleepovers, and movies (didn't we just go see Hairspray?) and eating out, and going to the pool, we also went to a parade, etc.?
J: That is not going somewhere.
Me: So where do you want to go?
J: I don't know, but we never do anything fun. Like tubing. Or paintball. And why can't I get an airsoft gun?
Me: What? Now what are we talking about? I am sorry you feel so deprived.
(quiet)
Me: And anyway, most of our weekends are filled with soccer. That makes it very difficult to do trips. Would you rather not play soccer?
J: no

The truth of the matter is--the conversation made me want to cry. I realized that maybe he was right. (in a way) We don't take day trips very often. I don't know where we would go. The kids seem too old for the zoo. Ben is in a stage where he thinks every thing is lame....(typical teenager attitude.) We should have taken a summer vacation, I guess. But--finding someone to take the dog is hard. I hate kennels. We were going to take a trip in July to Philadelphia, but that didn't work out. And now there is only two weeks until school starts--and we have my friend's dog Shiloh starting this thursday until we leave for Milwaukee(soccer tournament)next weekend. So....there just isn't time now. So-I feel guilty. When the time rolls around for the "What did you do this summer?" essays.....my kids will come up blank. I guess there is some sort of embarrassment in saying "we hung out with friends, took it easy, went to the pool, etc." When apparently, many other kids can say, "we went boating, we took amazing trips, etc." I hate that kids expect so much these days. We are surrounded by families that think kids need to be entertained all the time....taking them places....making sure they always have someone to play with....never letting them just sit and be bored, and to find something to do. Chores seem to be obsolete --except of course in OUR family. And living in a community that many of the families are extremely wealthy, make our kids think they are even more deprived. We have done our best teaching them that money doesn't buy happiness, that earning your way builds character, that you are supposed to be bored sometimes, that you can't always be entertained, etc. but, sometimes, when you see your kids feeling like they are "missing out" and wishing somehow they belonged in one of those "fun" families.....it breaks your heart. I am not regreting not handing our kids everything they want. I don't regret saying "NO" to the things we say no to. But, it hurts to think that maybe your kids feel like they are being neglected--because we don't focus our whole lives on what they think we should be doing (like going tubing, apparently!). I know our kids know they are loved--and I like to tell myself that when they look back they will realize that they were lucky to be in a family that cared enough to say no. I know when I grew up, I had an entirely different perspective. BUT-I do get concerned that we don't do enough things that memories are made of. How do you know if you are accomplishing that? I don't want my kids to reflect on their upbringing and think "yeah, our parents loved us, but we just didn't do anything!"

4 comments:

Mom said...

Come to Colorado!!!!! That will be something!
No, I know you can't do that now, but how about next summer? Jeff and Dave really would love to take the kids camping, hiking, backpacking etc. I was thinking maybe we could rent a cabin up in Estes Park (Rocky Mountain National park...it's beautiful!!), and us girls (and Caleb) could stay at the cabin while the "older" guys went camping, at least for one overnight. That's something that your boys haven't done, and really would be quite an experience for them. And if it worked out, they probably could go rapids rafting too. Think about it...if we want to do it, we would have to look into reserving a cabin sometime this winter.

Kathryn said...

I think it's human nature to look at others and romanticize what their lives must be like. Just as your boys may see another family as 'fun' and doing cool stuff all the time, I am sure other kids look at your family and think how cool it is that the family is so involved in soccer, that Matt used to play, too, etc.

I grew up in Darien, CT--extremely affluent town--and would hear about everyone's elaborate vacations all the time. It did make me wonder if I was missing out (my summers were spent locally at the beach or my grandparents' pool). Thankfully, with maturity comes better perspective!

Your boys might continue to think they are 'missing something' for a couple of years, but that doesn't mean you are not providing enough for them. It only speaks to their current perspective. :-)

deanna said...

You have an open ended invitation to come see Washington, D.C. It's not 6 flags, but there is one here, and King's Dominion and, well, US! And we'd love to see you and we tend to have middle and high school students congregating around our house. About 15 of them just left about 10 minutes ago!! Come!

kimsilver said...

Thank you to you all for your encouragement--and invitations!

Deanna-better be careful, we might just show up on your doorstep! :0)

Mom-we forgot to settle this when you were here, but I think we are currently leaning on coming at Christmas. The boys want to go skiing! Of course, we WILL do the summer cabin thing, too....just maybe not in the same year. But, you never know! :0)