Workaround and WifeSwap
Today I worked around The Bigs til 3:30 when I just couldn’t listen to them telling me they were bored anymore. My middle son was up before 7:00, since there was no school. My youngest actually went to school because the roads were open again. Fortunately there weren’t too many people working so I didn’t have a busy schedule and was able to nearly complete a project that I had back-burnered for two weeks, and only had to chase the kids out of my office maybe three times. Then we went out in the back marsh, I mean, yard. I cleaned up sticks and debris while my middle son lounged on a chair and my oldest threw a ball up on the roof and watched it roll down. I was happy to see that plants and flowers are already emerging and blooming in our yard. I guess March showers bring April flowers.
We went to get my youngest and stopped at McDonald’s before we got back home. And then, this evening, I had a whole hour and a half to myself. I went to the gym where I have a good excuse to watch TV (what else am I gonna do while I’m on the cardio machines?).
There are six TVs. On one side is sports and news and on the other is entertainment and one of the major channels. I chose the entertainment side. There was a choice between some reality show with elite and IMHO – spoiled – teenage girls and “WifeSwap,” which is what I chose to watch. I was amazed. I imagine they must pick very extreme families for the show, for contrast. In this show, both families had three kids. One family did not have any rules or boundaries for their kids and their 19-year-old son sat around on the couch all day aimless while the mom spent all the money the dad made on clothes and a doll collection, and didn’t do a lot of parenting of her real kids. The other family had a really strong work ethic but had a business that wasn’t viable supported by another business and the dad was really indulgent towards his wife (wanting her to have her dream business even if it was a money sink), but not at all loving towards his sons, who were home schooled, had no time for friends, and worked in both businesses.
So, the moms switch houses. At times it was painful to watch. But ultimately, the strict mom who moved into the house with the aimless 19-year-old helped the dad grow a backbone and insist that his son mow the lawn and get a job. His son didn’t like it (who would, after 19 years of sitting around on his butt) and gave his dad a lot of flack, but ultimately turned his attitude around and helped. At the end of the show he was even looking for a job. They also put away the doll collection and cleaned out the mom’s closet. She was so not happy when she returned. This mom helped the other family see that the business didn’t make sense, that the kids needed a social life and time to be kids, and that the dad needed to be more loving to his sons. The dad said his own father only told him twice in his own life that he loved him, but by the end of the show he was tucking his own children in at night, kissing them, and telling them he loved them — with a smile! That part actually brought a tear to my eye.
My children are my #1 priority and just about everything I do is because of them. Yes, I requested they leave my office today…sometimes other things have to come first — other things I do because of them or for them. (And of course some things I do for myself, like go to the gym or paint my toenails, and it is true, I did tell my middle son he’d have to get his own drink or wait because my toenails were wet!) But I make sure to show and tell my kids I love them daily.
WifeSwap reminded me that there are all kinds of families out there and while some of the things that go on in other people’s houses are not things I would want in mine, you can still learn a lot from other parents. The lenient, doll collecting mom was very loving and the very strict mom had clearly defined boundaries, goals, and discipline. In fact, I’ll take a lesson from her next time I’m out in the back yard with my sons and insist that they help!