This idea changed my life and it can help yours. It’s one of my all time favorite life experiences. It’s a true story.
Better decisions and perspective in life makes life “flow, smoothly.” More fun, more enjoyment and less “grumpy old man shaking his fist shouting, “Get off of my lawn!”
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The scene: Atlantis, Bahamas: This place is paradise. Palm trees, coconut drinks, 5-star accommodations, water slides, snorkeling, sun tanned beautiful people, all you can eat buffets and families having a blast together.
So why am I walking around with a “sour puss face” and feeling like I’m on the edge of internally combusting?
It’s because despite the beauty, the family trip, the dream coming true; my kids are crying and punching each other in the adjoining room. They are fighting.
The cause – Skittles
You see, the mini fridge in the kid’s room only has 2 packs of Skittles yet I have 4 kids. In my room… That’s right player, we booked two rooms for this adventure, mom and dad need a trip to paradise as well. Anyway, my fridge has M&M’s.
So regardless of paradise right outside of the sliding door, there is a battle raging over who gets Skittles.
Now I’m mad. “Kids, stop crying and fighting…quit bitching!!” I stammered. “We just got here and you guys aren’t worried about the water slides and turtles, you’re worried about who gets goddamn Skittles!!” (Grumpy “lawn protecting” old man voice…for sure!)
“Worry about what’s important!!”
I was so mad I had to leave the room.
Not 100 feet from my room was a little corner market. More Skittles were there for the purchase of course. A simple solution to my woes. But, at $4.35 a pack (tourist prices) I was hesitant to buy them. I mentally added up the cost of the trip, the rooms, the water passes, and all incidentals and I’ll be damned if I’m going to tack on an additional $8.70 for a bunch of whiny kids that have no respect for nor any gratefulness for parents that are so cool, they’d book a trip to enjoy as a family. It’s not about the money… it’s about the principal. I have to remain strong, it’s a teaching moment. My kids will learn and understand there are consequences and it’s important to have priorities in life. To not live for instant gratification. It’s what’s wrong with the whole generation and the reason for the fall of America. These kinds of decisions by parents are WHY kids eat Tide pods for likes on YouTube.
I know full well, that they could share. Heck, they won’t even eat 10 of them anyway. It’s just the fact that they don’t want to share, MINE MINE MINE!
So I didn’t buy them.
And I was miserable all day.
Me! I am in paradise and I’m sulking, pissy, and moany. A ruined day one.
As I walked around the resort (10 steps ahead of my family) and just a grumpy old man, I noticed a lot of dad’s behaving the same way. “Why are all the dads at Atlantis pissed off?” I wondered.
Or a better question, “Why won’t these kids value what I value?” The rest of the week was some of the same. I enjoyed myself of course and there were great memories but I returned home stressed, poor, and strung out – and need of a real vacation. When it wasn’t Skittles it was the GOOMBAY punch, conch fritters, or something else. Look, Atlantis is fabulous, I highly recommend it. It just wasn’t all it should have been or all I imagined it was going to be despite some amazing moments.
Now fast forward to last night.
My parents had just arrived in town. We were celebrating my youngest son’s pre-K graduation at a restaurant on the water. A typical amazing Corpus Christi sunset was going on and all was good in the world.
Until three of my kids noticed that one of my kids had a Root Beer.
The others had ordered lemonade.
This immediately set off a whining/pouting fit, in front of my parents, during a sunset, at paradise while dining in a restaurant.
I was just starting to instantly switch a’ la Incredible Hulk, from relaxed and tranquil to “high alert” and “pissed” and the fight or flight surge the adrenaline was starting to course through my veins. Instantaneous visions of how spoiled these little brats are and how I have done so much wrong as a parent that these kids can pout and moan and complain about such small issues flooded my inner eye.
And then, as if spoken from God Himself…A BOOM of ancient waves crashing. A rumble and grumble of primordial gravel, like a thunderous earthquake… a voice spoke from all around, although perhaps looking back, it was strictly in my head.
“CHAD. JUST BUY THE DAMN SKITTLES.”
I believe, trancelike, I even whispered the words aloud, as my lips moved with each syllable.
This “experience” I had last night would have profound effects on me and will affect me for the rest of my life, despite what little and minuscule the voice said.
I honestly felt as if the Almighty Himself, or my ancient soul, or some divine being created to slap our stupid faces with reality, when we are so blinded by human-ism to see clearly. It spoke directly into my soul. Honestly, I truly wish the voice would have said something to me a little more exciting than that. A book title that would net me millions or something…but hey, who am I to question the inner workings of the universe.
“Buy the damn Skittles!”
Back at the restaurant, I went up to the counter, as if transfixed like a robot. I gave Larry $9.00 for three root beers and came back. The kids popped the tops took a sip and everything was fixed. Done. That’s all they had. They didn’t even drink it! All my inner argumentative dialogue about 47 grams of sugar, spoiling kids, tooth decay, being a poor father in front of my parents, a;; of it… was for naught. They didn’t even drink it.
Wasted money, yes? If you judge it by the price per can of a root beer. But reach out a step beyond the actual product, because the $9 was the best therapy, most relaxation, even possibly BEST money I’ve ever spent. $9 for instant serenity. Inner peace. Ahhhhh.
I had dreams last night about how much different the trip to Atlantis could have been.
Look, judge me. I’m ok with that. Decide I’m a pushover as a parent and by caving I will indeed enable my kids to become street punks with needles hanging out of their arms and lead an unfulfilled life by never reaching satisfaction in little thing… or any of the other scenarios I tend to play over and over in my head when I think about future consequences. Go ahead, judge.
But I’m guessing that the end result of me buying the root beer and the Skittles is nothing more than that. It’s just Skittles. Nothing more than satisfying a little kid’s wants for that immediate second and there are ZERO actual repercussions.
All I know is I experienced a miracle and my evening turned out way better than it could have.
My blood pressure, heart, wife, kids, parents, and all those around me are better off for a few over-priced root beers and perfectly priced better decisions.