Yesterday we started up the family advent calendar, and even though the first item is always to put up the (fake) tree and decorate the house, there was much excitement and wondering about what the first activity would be. Once revealed, the girls were super pumped, and ran to get the decorations, and immediately flew into a decorating frenzy.
Then this conversation happened:
Captain Jelly Belly: “When I grow up, I am totally going to do this advent calendar thing.”
Me, heart swelling with pride, imagining Mother Of The Year award on my mantel: “Really honey? That’s wonderful!”
Captain: “Yeah, it’s a great way to trick your kids into doing work around the house and actually getting excited about it.”
Me, set to WAH-WAH horn of disappointment: “Oh.”
So yes, the Captain felt that trimming the tree in Norman Rockwell Treasured Family Moment style was work, and that we were trying to trick him into doing lame-o chores with his lame-o family. And so, I have seen the dawn of preteen behaviour, and it is a long, dark, lonely road ahead of us.
At first I told him he didn’t have to bother bringing his bad attitude around, and he could sit and read or whatever while the rest of us had fun. But that started to bother me, and Sir Monkeypants and I went to have a chat with him that covered these highlights:
- He would not be allowed to pick and choose which advent activites to partake in – he couldn’t pooh-pooh the things that seemed like work, then join in if we were going to Funhaven or something. (He immediately and without hesitation decided to opt-out of the entire thing.)
- Opting out of the entire thing was not going to be acceptable, because Christmas is about more than getting a heap of gifts on December 25, it’s about spending time with your family and sharing the season with those you love, whether you want to or not.
- Plus, some activities actually involve leaving the house, but he is still too young to stay home while the other four of us go out and have a good time without his sorry ass, SADLY.
- So, he better re-think his attitude on the entire subject and get his butt in there and get trimming.
UGH. I mean, on one hand, I don’t want to force him to do family stuff. My mother was always forced to do family stuff as a kid, and HATED IT, and still speaks to this day of the HORROR of HAVING to do to big family dinners every so often. When we grew up, she insisted we never had to do any family thing if we didn’t want to, and I took her up on that once when I was about 16, staying home while the rest of them went to Easter dinner at my grandparent’s house, and it was bizarre and uncomfortable and lonely, and I never did it again. So maybe it’s really best to leave him out of a few things and have him come around on his own.
But on other hand, at 10 I feel like he’s still too young to stay home alone for several hours or a whole day, especially in the evening, while I am taking the girls shopping or to a movie or to a museum, so he’s going to have to tag along to some activities, at least. And I agree, he shouldn’t be able to label some things as “lame” or “work” and ignore those, then do the fun things. I think maybe what I should do is get HIM to pick the activities for next year. Maybe I’ll even run this year’s list by him and let him make substitutions (which means, 24 days of PLAY VIDEOGAMES in the advent calendar, GAH).
It’s quite sad for me that the girls are still so passionately enthusiastic, but the Captain has apparently moved on. It’s going to be a tough, tough few years of juggling preteens and teens while I still have at least one kid who wants to still be a kid. I guess that’s what these years are all about – time to buck up and suck it up. Sigh.