So, a few weekends ago the kids and I went to Montreal to visit with my sister – who is currently living up North – so the kids are hungry for more time with her! We’ve been doing an annual visit with her in Montreal for quite a few years now, I’m not sure how many off hand, but the kids look forward to it and love the whole experience! Montreal is awesome isn’t it?? Endless adventures to get yourself into :) Even for kids!
Anyways, we were having a great time, and found ourselves in the Botanical Gardens in Montreal after a late breakfast on Sunday. This had been something that was discussed with the kids and everyone seemed good to go!
However, the minute we had got past the ticket counter and started walking around, one of my daughter’s says ‘when are we having lunch, I’m hungry’ and my son says ‘I’m too tired to walk, let’s go back to the hotel’…
Immediately, I’m asking them, ‘hey guys – didn’t we all agree to check this place out, we just got here. We also just finished breakfast, so let’s just spend a few hours here and then head for lunch.’
They start saying how they never said they wanted to come. What??
To which my sister even confirmed to them that she’d spoken to them about it again just this morning – and everyone was keen.
So, we spent the entire time going through the greenhouse, listening to one of my daughters and my son complaining about everything and constantly asking if we were almost done so we could head out for lunch. It was terrible and no fun for anyone.
There were three areas we wanted to see at this place, the greenhouse (because it was raining outside), the Insectarium, and the outdoor natural structures exhibit.
Once we were out of the greenhouse area the rain had cleared and it was a sunny beautiful day.
When we got to the Insectarium building, I had to do something about my kids. They were making the whole experience completely annoying. Everyone was getting angrier and annoyed with each other. This wasn’t how I wanted to spend the time visiting with my sister – who we don’t see all that often!
My daughter apparently figured the same thing because she sat herself on a bench outside the building, and said she wasn’t going any further and that’d she’d wait for us where she was. My son sat down beside her and thought that was a great idea.
There was officially a standoff :) Isn't parenting a treat?
So, I had a few choices. I could get angry and tell them they just had to come, cause they'd said they’d check out the place so here we are, let’s friggin check it out.
I could just fold it all in and head out for lunch an hour after we had breakfast.
However, I decided to do something radically different for me.
You see my long game as a parent is to be that parent where my kids and I have a trusting and good relationship as they go through their teens. Where my kids ask for my advice and talk to me about things that they are wondering about. I want them to see me as a trusted advisor and friend, as they get older, and not a dictator. I want them to remain open to me and not close off as they go into their teens.
So, I took a deep breath and asked them why they were acting so terribly when they had agreed to check this place out? They certainly didn’t have to love the place, but ruining the experience for the rest of us, just because it wasn’t what they thought it would be, wasn’t acceptable.
And because I cry when I’m saying anything that’s really important to me emotionally, there were tears :) From the kids too!
We discussed why they couldn’t stay on the bench (their age, I had no idea how long it would take to go through the Insectarium and get back to meet them, that we were trying to visit with their Aunt, etc). We discussed how in a group of 5, the chances of everyone 100% loving what we’re doing are slim, but that our main priority for the weekend was to visit with my sister – whom they all totally love – so it didn’t necessarily matter where we were, we could have an enjoyable time together. That the whole weekend was a juggle of peoples' interests, which is why when we ask for opinions on what we should go do in Montreal – that’s an important time to speak up. If you don’t like something so much, once you’re there, then just focus on the people you're with and having fun with them. And how getting to one place that you don’t like, isn’t the end of the world and overall isn’t a HUGE problem, and shouldn’t be reacted to with all possible manipulation strategies. Stuff like that.
In the end, the kids chose to keep going through into the Insectarium. My daughter hung around the edges and was quiet but was no longer injecting negativity into every possible moment. My son ended up loving the place! And the best part, was that the anger and madness that hung over us while we were in the greenhouses, seemed to have been aired out adequately and wasn’t a residual mood that lingered the rest of the day – thank god!
The magical part of the whole thing, was that by the time we got to the outdoor natural structures exhibit, everyone thought that part was pretty amazing. And there was the most beautiful pond full of lilipads, turtles and flowers – right in the heart of Montreal. It was very much symbolic of our improved moods as we walked through these gardens.
All was good with the world again :) But man oh man, this photo, taken by one of my daughters was hard fought!
Wishing you all the best in your parenting adventures this week! :) And don't forget to breath deeply all the way through ;)
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