Inclusion is Rewarding

Six and Antonio Skiing at Loon Mountain

Patricia and I travel with the kids all the time. We started when Victoria was six months old and could fly. So, heading to New York City for a “theatre weekend” has occurred multiple times over the years. Patricia and I are big proponents of balance and having the kids experience a wide range of areas, not just their preferred interests. The funny thing is that I believe the kids love going to the theatre just as much as going to a ball game or skiing or any other activity we do together. I believe that the key is “doing it together”. They enjoy being included and being out with us and our friends.

We planned a particular theatre trip while we were skiing one weekend, before the kids were in high school. My buddy Steve, who we call Snax, owns a ski house at Loon Mountain and we were up there quite often during ski season when the kids were younger. Après skiing one day we were chatting about having a theatre weekend in NYC, because Snax and his fiancé Erin, Patricia and I have gone to a bunch of shows together in Boston. We thought it would be fun to include the kids on the trip. Now, I am assuming the thought of an 11 and 13 year-old joining in on a theatre weekend would not be top of the list for a dude and his fiancé (I realize it’s a very inside joke, but as an aside, Erin is not really Steve’s fiancé, I just know it will make him crazy for me to put it in writing, and that’s part of the fun. I appreciate you bearing with me. Now back to the story). However Snax and Erin loved the idea of bringing the kids along.

Let’s face it, some kids are just nightmares to travel with or to go out to dinner with. They either were not trained properly or have not done it enough to act appropriately. We are extremely fortunate because both of our kids behave better than some adults. In fact, at times I think Snax would prefer to hang out with my son rather than me. I believe that both my daughter and son behave appropriately because ever since I can remember, we have included them in on the fun and the conversation. This weekend was no exception. We had a great time, like we were six adults enjoying travel together as opposed to having a couple of kids in tow.

The kids can order dinner better than most adults. They know what they want, they are prepared when asked, and they are able to request their meal to be prepared to their liking, mostly because it’s not their first rodeo. At the theatre, they enjoy the show, laugh appropriately, and do not act like fidgety kids. I’m sure you have definitely encountered the fidgety type. We were on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty on Saturday and there were two girls who were about my son’s age swinging their feet and slamming them against the seat. We felt every kick and reverberation; absolutely annoying and uncalled for. To make matters worse, the mother was standing right in front of them watching, and I assume because they were not up in her grill, she let them torture us. Then the mother revealed to me what I knew to be true by witnessing the actions of her kids: she was rude and ill equipped to understand that her own actions and behavior shouldn’t negatively affect others. This woman gave her kids nuts, dropped shells all over the boat, and proceeded to shake and wipe off her peanut-shelled hands in midair, causing all the debris to cover Patricia, never acknowledging or apologizing.

I firmly believe that when you see kids behaving poorly, you can just look at their parents to find the answer why it is the case. As we were docking on Liberty Island to experience the symbol of freedom, I realized that people not only take the freedom we have for granted, they also do not realize that the privilege bestowed upon them comes with responsibility and respect for others. I am obviously biased, because they are my kids, but the reason they are welcomed by adults to join in on the excursions is that they understand the respect and responsibility that comes with the privilege. My son took it to the next level, when he pulled me aside noting how the woman and her spawn were out of line.

The reason I like my kids coming along is not just because I love them, it’s also because they behave appropriately in the situation. Sure, they are kids and love to be kids, and when their knucklehead buddies are around they fit right in and do what kids do. However, when they are with our friends and other adults, they also do what’s appropriate to the situation. It’s this way because we have included them in activities like dinner, theatre, and conversations from the beginning of their development. In general, when you include people from the beginning, things always seem to go smoother. When you throw folks into situations that they are not prepared for, things tend to go awry.

When you prepare your kids for what is ahead of them and include them, they will most always rise to the occasion. When you take the stand that they’re on a “need to know basis” you may claim to be surprised by their awful attitude, but you set both them and yourself up for failure. Inclusion in grown up activities, cause kids to grow up right.

Be Present ~

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