Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Monday, May 4, 2015

Touched & Went Our Separate Ways

I'm sorry.  I find this completely depressing.  Most of the comments are depressing, too.  I was happy that the "Top Comment" was awarded (when I read the opinion piece) to a mother of seven whose children were spread out over a 25-year span.  It counteracts, a bit, the anti-child tone of many of the comments.

Why We Do Not Take Family Vacations

We have a parallel situation in our family.  Thanks to advances in technology, we can all be sitting in the same room, but each person is watching his or her own movie or TV show, listening to his or her own music, not having to share the inconvenience of watching or listening to something he or she doesn't like.

I'm not sure this is a good thing.

A while back, I threw a bit of a tantrum because my daughter's favorite radio station was on in the car when we turned it on.  I, as the driver, didn't feel that I should deign to listen to music that was not of my choosing.  I am ashamed of that tantrum to this day.  As I pondered my poor behavior, it occurred to me that I'd become spoilt.  I was unused to having to compromise on my choice of entertainment.  Because in a very short time, I'd grown accustomed to not having to compromise.  It made me wonder what we lose in interpersonal skills, when we no longer have to take turns with our entertainment choices.

Not long ago, an online mother shared how she'd been exposed to all sorts of music over the years, whilst driving her children to their various activities. She was writing this as a fond remembrance. (It was Elizabeth Foss, but I don't remember where it was she wrote this. Blog? Instagram? Her "Catholic Herald" column?)  It brought me up short, knowing that our family has this Thing about radio control in the car.  I decided that, when I look back on life, I would prefer to have that as my memory, rather than carry the smug satisfaction that I had ultimate power as long as I was the driver.  Since then, I've tried to be more generous in offering radio station choice to my passengers.

Back to the separate vacations.  I think it is fine for select members of the family to go off and do their own thing, every once in a while.  Some people really hate camping, alas.  But I still believe in the concept of the Family Vacation.  No, we will not be able to always do what makes everyone happy.  Is that so horrid?  Does it harm a toddler to learn that the world doesn't revolve around her likes and dislikes?  Will it kill a teen to do what grandma or baby sister want to do?  Is it really that bad for a parent to play like a kid?  In Catholic circles, we call this "dying to self."  In secular terms, it's called "extending yourself to others so you won't be a self-centered jerk."

I hope I don't come across as being harsh to those who feel separate vacations are great.  More, I am coming from the place of being rather selfish about wanting time to myself, wanting to watch a movie without worrying about others not liking the genre, wanting to sing along loudly to songs I've loved for decades. . . . but also coming from a place of realizing how my life has been enriched by getting to know other people and their likes and dislikes. 

If you cannot do this within your own household, how on earth can you expect to do it in the world at large? 

And isn't that a lesson we would want to impart upon the next generation?

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