Somewhere last week, I realized that I missed last week. Memorial Day lapse. I spent Monday afternoon in the hot sun at a Braves-Phillies game. I’d planned to write about a family outing to the game, which was followed by a Beach Boys concert. However, a combination of four hours of hot sun followed by hot dogs at The Varsity left me in no shape to do anything.
However, it does bring up the subject of family outings.
During the summer, the Mall of Georgia has movie night under the stars every Saturday. The evening opens with a demonstration of some kind (e.g. karate club breaking boards, dance group, etc.) followed by a local cover band. The movie usually gets started around 9:15. We went a few times last summer and will probably see a few movies again this summer.
Last Saturday’s movie was Planet 51. My kids had already seen it, courtesy of certain family members two generations removed from them. However, it was a first time for my wife and me. We packed our chairs, a blanket to sit on, drinks, and popcorn. There’s always a good crowd at these events, but it never feels crowded.
After we got set up, I had what I could only describe as an anxious moment. My kids, armed with coupons for ice cream and fries at Chick-Fil-A, declared they wanted to go.
“What?” I asked.
It dawned on me that somebody needed to remain with our stuff. My wife wanted to look around the mall while my boys and I watched the music. However, the idea of them walking together to and from Chick-Fil-A scared me. The look on my face must have spoken volumes. My wife looked at me and said, “I’ll walk with them to the place.”
That left me a little bit better. However, it was only half way there. My older son, newly thirteen, is mostly a responsible young man. We even let him go by himself to the bathroom at the Braves game. My eight-year old, though, is another matter. I stared at my younger son. “You listen to your brother and you come straight back.”
Still, I sweated it out while I waited for them. One of our biggest challenges in raising our eight-year old has been in ensuring that he doesn’t run off when he’s out with us. When he was younger, he thought hide-n-seek was a game suited even for a public place. We worked hard to make sure he understood the danger, still his rambunctious nature worried me. I sighed when I saw them come back.
My relief was short-lived. I should have known what was coming. “Dad, I need to go to the bathroom.”
I’d actually thought this event through. There is a Barnes & Noble next to where the movies are shown. Though the place is active, the bathroom isn’t busy and the store is quiet. I asked my older son to escort his brother there. They made it back safely.
My wife was more relaxed about all of this then I was. She spends more time on outings with the kids while I’m at work and knows how good they are. Still, it was a learning experience for me.
So, how do you handle this situation with your kids?