Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Best Laid Plans

As you undoubtedly know by now, my wife and I are soon to be divorced. Ever since that has been decided, we have made a very conscious effort to make it as easy and pain-free on the boys as possible. In many ways, it's been better for G-Dogg and Mozilla because they're getting more individual attention from each of us.

Last night, with the soon to be ex going out with her friends, I decided to plan a nice, fun evening for the boys. I decided to take them to Papa's Pizza, which is a kid-friendly establishment. They have a huge play area, which is indoors. Mozilla actually had his 5th birthday party there. After Papa's, I figured it would be fun to take them to see Wallace and Gromit.

So, we get to Papa's, order some food (1/2 cheese, 1/2 pepperoni pizza and some mozzerella sticks) and drinks and head off to find a table. I get situated at the table and then tell the boys that they can go play in the play area.

There is a window looking into the play area from our table, so I don't actually have to go into the room with them (parents are told to supervise children at all times), so I just sit at the table watching through the window, making sure the boys are ok.

About five seconds after they get in there, they start running all over the place like madmen. Almost literally bouncing off the walls. Running top speed from one end of the place to the other, knocking each other down, rough housing, etc.

I have to stop here for a second. My boys know how to act in public. They know how to play in public. They do not get away with much when I'm around. When it comes to behavior in public, I'm not a pushover with them. Actually, I'm the exact opposite of a pushover. Acting up in public isn't something I put up with.

So, I stride in there and put a stop to their antics right then and there. They tell me they understand that if they continue to behave the way they are, we're getting our food to go and they will eat dinner and spend the rest of the night in bed, reading.

Dinner arrives, they boys wash up, sit down and eat. Eating was pretty uneventful. Discussing their day at school, etc.

Afterwards, we have about 45 minutes before we have to leave for the movie, so I tell them they can go play. But this time I gave them very specific instructions. (A) No running in the play area; (B) No rough housing with anyone; (C) Keep your hands to yourself. They told me they understood perfectly and off they go.

So, they get in there and the first thing I see is G-Dogg take off on a dead sprint and knock Mozilla down while trying to bat a balloon up in the air. I sat there dumbfounded. I mean, didn't I just say that was not acceptable behavior? WTH? So I go into the area and have ANOTHER talk with the boys about the rules and their behavior. I never raised my voice, I just sternly told them that they had one more chance before they would be severely disappointed with the rest of their night.

I leave and things are going swimmingly for the next 25 minutes when I see the "lady in charge" go over to Mozilla and tell him something. I go into the area to find out what's up and Mo takes off like a shot for the farthest point in the room that is away from me. I know he did something wrong.

I ask him what's up and he told me the lady told him not to go down the steps of the slide, but to use the slide itself. Ok. That's fine, he didn't know the rule. No biggie. I look at the clock and decide it's time to go to the movie.

When we get out toward the car, I was talking to Mo about what the lady said saying "well, since you didn't know the rule, it's no biggie; just remember it next time." This is when he informed me that it was the THIRD time the lady had told him this. She added that if he didn't listen, he'd be asked to leave.

To top it off, at the exact moment that Mo and I were talking while going to the car, G-Dogg decided it would be funny to trip Mo and make him fall on the wet grass.

Needless to say, I had enough at that point. I nixed the movie idea and told them they were going straight home to bed. I don't remember being that disappointed in them before.

Of course they cried, screamed, begged and pleaded with me for forgiveness. God forgives right away, daddy doesn't. Of course I reassured both of them that I still love them, even though I was severely disappointed with their behavior. I also commended Mo on telling me the truth about what happened.

So, the rest of the night was spent listening to whiny, crying children that were blaming everyone but themselves for their fate.

Of course, after they went to bed and fell asleep, I felt like a heel for putting the kabosh on the fun for the evening, but they need to learn boundaries, right?

I told them that best laid plans don't always work out. You just move on and try to do better next time.

Hopefully, they learned something last night. With all that's going on, it's hard for me to stick to my guns, no matter how well I know that it's for the best.

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