Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Great Expectations

Today our family went to a new recreation center.  I had been there before and I knew that the facility offered a ton of fun options.  The main thing I was excited about showing the kids was the outdoor pool area.  It was so much more than just a pool.  There was a large aquatic playground and several play areas.  I knew the kids would love it.

We arrived at the center and bought our passes.  We were meeting some friends there and while we waited for them we went to play in the "mat room".  This is a racket ball court that had been converted to a padded play room full of large mats and padded blocks for kids to build with and tumble around.  I had intended this to be a five minute stop before our main attraction.  The kids were not on the same page. Our friends arrived and were ready to head to the pool.  #1 and #2 wanted to stay and play.  I coaxed them into at least checking out the pool and promised that we would return to the mat room.

I was hoping that once they saw the grandeur of the pool that they would forget about the other.  Not so much.  #1 was fairly willing to go with the flow but #2 was quick to remind me that he had checked it out and now he wanted to go back inside.  I ended up just straight up telling him that we were going to swim first and we would go inside later but it was not going to be soon.  He was not happy and I felt icky because I knew I had been deceptive with my wording.  The phrase "let's go check it out" does not imply that we will be there for a two hour swim.  Ugh.

Once I got #2 in the water we did have a good time, but he continued to ask when we could go back in and play.  I kept my promise and they were able to spend a large chunk of the afternoon playing in the mat room.  This day was a great reminder for me.

It is easy for me as a parent to want to wow my kids with a fantastic activity that I have planned.  I forget that EVERYTHING is new to them.  Simple activities that I am desensitized to are mind blowing to them.  I am guilty of removing them from something that they are really enjoying because I want to move on to something better.  Why?  Why do I do this?  If they are happy playing in the playroom why do I insist on swimming?  There is not a rule that we have to swim, but it was my expectation.  It was my plan and now I am forced to decide if I want to keep my plan or if I want to achieve my goal.

The goal was to have a fun playful day.  The plan was to go swimming.  Am I able to forgo my plan to reach my goal?  Sometimes the answer is Yes. These are the times when  I can objectively view the situation and see that the day may not be what I had invisioned but it is still giving me my desired outcome.  And at other times the answer is no because I choose to sacrifice fun on the alter of my expectations.  Yuck.

Today I landed somewhere in the middle.  I began by forcing my agenda and halfway through asked myself, "What do I care if we swim or play in the mat room?"  I would like to think that I am learning from my mistakes and therefore I will count today as a win.  And by win I mean that no children were forced into the pool against their will because we came to swim and, by-golly swim we will.

I am sure that you cannot relate to this post, so thanks for indulging me...

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