Every summer since my ex and I split up I take my children to Florida to visit one of my best friends and her children. Typically we travel there via airplane–not this year. I have always wanted to take a long road trip with them, so they can see what they miss while flying in a plane.
I have known for months we were going, I just wasn’t sure exactly when. We decided on Sunday to leave on Thursday and tackle the 1,140 mile drive from Ohio to South Florida.
I have four children and was planning on taking them all. My oldest is a 14-year old girl; such a difficult age for her, and for any parent. Occasionally, I am not sure who or what I am dealing with when conversing with her– it’s definitely a challenge.
When I originally told the children about the trip she wanted nothing to do with it. I just assumed it was the typical teenage attitude and she would get over it. What teenage girl wouldn’t want to go to the beach?!
But when go-time came around and we started preparations, she decided to continue to put up a fight about going. She didn’t want to leave her friends, go on a road trip, and she wanted to stay with her dad while I was gone. All legitimate excuses for a teenager, in her precious mind. She was badgering my mother, her other grandmother, her father and myself about not going with us for about a week prior. I insisted she had no choice in the matter and she was going to participate in our family vacation. When the day of departure approached she continued to exhaust everyone in her path with her refusal. Our car was packed and my other three children were in the car so excited to begin our travels. My daughter was with her father and she was stressing me out with the sob stories on how she needed to stay home. Her father and I spoke about her not going and learning some sort of lesson by staying behind. I had a tough decision to make.
Do I take her with us and tolerate the negativity? Do I risk her possibly making our time together a nightmare of a vacation? Or do I let her stay with her dad and know (hope) that once we got down there she would wish she’d have joined?
The clock was ticking and after I spoke with the other three kids about it I decided to let her see what it’s like to miss out on our yearly family tradition. We left and I was minus one child. It was so sad and I questioned myself about it. Fear of the unknown comes hand in hand with being a parent, and I feared I made the wrong decision leaving her behind.
But the road trip was so much fun and we had a lot of quality time together trapped in a vessel heading down I-77 to I-95. There wasn’t any tension or grief between anyone, we were so excited to get to our destination. Once we arrived and we were there for a few days the fearful feelings subsided. I was spending quality time with my babies and making memories in the process. I wish she would have joined us. Next time, I suppose.
When I spoke with my daughter she had no regrets about not joining us. But because of the massive amounts of hurt feelings and potential anxiety she caused, I also made the executive decision to punish her when I returned in some way.
I had a week to think about it.