Memories, Moments and Meltdowns
Last week was our family vacation in Northern Michigan. This has been a family tradition for me for about 25 years and for Kori, it has been a yearly occurrence since she was about 3 years old. This has been a favorite trip of each year for the family with many memories being created when we are all together.
As the kids have grown up the dynamics have changed as have my expectations. When the kids were little we took several trips to Disney World and the best advice I read when planning our vacation was to be prepared for melt downs and be ready to adapt to the attitudes of the kids. That meant extra breaks, stops for drinks or a short nap in the shade. As the kids have grown, there have been less and less breaks to allow the kids to unwind and recover but this trip to the U.P. has taught me those breaks might still be needed, atleast for me!
Being in close quarters with my adult and teenage children, I realize that I had expectations of how each should act but by the middle of the week, my patience wore thin as my beautiful children were not living up to my unspoken expectations. One night mid week, this all came to the surface and I found myself with a shorter temper when someone wouldn’t meet Kori or my needs. I had a difficult time recovering that night when one got mad about something outside of their control and couldn’t recover. Unfortunately for me, there was no where to go as we were all in one cabin. For the most of the vacation, I dealt with it all in stride remembering my Disney like mentality but by the middle of the week, all my strategies were out the window and I was just trying to survive and not have a patented Mike Becker explosion.
I didn’t hide my emotions well at all and everyone knew I wasn’t myself. When asked what was going on, I tried to say I was just tired but no one bought it. What was I going to say? My kids are driving me crazy and can’t handle them anymore tonight?! Maybe that would have served me better. Instead, I simply put myself in an extended time out. Those are words the kids have learned mean dad has had it with us and to give him his space. Usually the self imposed time out serves it’s purpose and I come back with a different state of mind and my attitude has been adjusted. This time out ended up being my bed time.
The next morning my attitude had changed and I apologized to the family for my meltdown. For the rest of the trip, I did my best remembering our Disney trips and dealt with new conflicts differently anytime they came up. I realized that anytime you are in such close quarters with other people for a longer time frame, there are bound to be more conflicts and it is better to deal with them head on then to just hope things will change.
It is often said that Disney is the happiest place on earth. I would say that our cabin is right up there and it makes me pretty happy. Perhaps I should write a book about how to deal with family conflicts or meltdowns when visiting your happiest place on earth. It would still include taking a break, eating a snack or a nap under a tree. I would probably add a section about communicating when things are not going the way you had hoped and how to best join the family after your own meltdown.