My husband and I had taken the three nieces and one nephew on a trip through New Mexico. On one late afternoon the nephew was getting the worse of it from his sister and cousins. Everyone was tense and the nephew, a bit irritable, began to focus on how he was being treated. Once people in a group switch from ‘participating’ to focusing on how they are being treated--the chances for productive and enjoyable activity go downhill.
We split up into our hotel rooms to clean up. My nephew was last to arrive back at the van to leave for the restaurant. On his head was perched the ‘for your convenience’ shower cap from his room. The girls teased him at first. He pretended, quite effectively, that he did not know what they were talking about. There was no shower cap, he insisted. He suggested the girls consult with the two psychologists up front since they were clearly ‘seeing things’ that did not exist.
The rule was that we didn’t referee without the presence of blood. The girls couldn’t stand the thought that we were about to troop into a fancy restaurant with a boy (I think he was nine) with a shower cap on his head. I didn’t give in to their pleas to make him take it off and he didn’t give into their threats. After the unsuccessful bartering, my nephew revealed his plan.
“I will take off this invisible shower cap for a dollar.”
After another failed attempt to drag me into the situation, the girls took responsibility and started bargaining. Before we reached the restaurant the cap was gone and the girls had set up a plan to sneak out all future shower caps. The tactic was outrageous. And funny. We were all laughing and trading ideas on how to collect money from the more easily embarrassed folks in the family. There is a moral about extortion in there somewhere, but resist the urge to look at the situation and judge it. Please it’s about the process—it’s about kids turning an over-serious night back into the fun one we all expected. Don’t make it into an example of what’s wrong with ‘parents today’ or ‘kids today.’
Please. Because I can’t pay my bills if my neighbors quit paying me fifty bucks a month to guarantee that I will wear at least a robe when I claim the newspaper in the drive. No hard feelings from them. They say it’s worth it.
Lighten up already.