Is Everyone Else "Winging" This Parenting Thing?

Disney. Wow. Not my cup of tea, but really impressed with the "cast" and just how well the place works. And Laney had a blast. I don't think it was necessarily her type of thing either. She liked the princess castle, and all that stuff, but when it came to time for the fireworks show at the end of the night, she wanted to go ride Space Mountain again. She's 11 and we are figuring out this stuff as we go along, but she is definitely more into riding roller coasters than getting a picture with Cinderella. We took a hilarious GoPro video of us on Expedition Everest. I thought it was a regular roller coaster, didn't know it went backwards in the dark. I screamed and screamed, and she is laughing with her hands up the whole time.

Anyway, day two was Animal Kingdom which I think was both our favorites, (well minus the three times she made me ride Expedition Everest) and then we had dinner reservations at Rainforest Café. We loved it. Well the burgers were good, but she loved the fish tanks and animals and atmosphere, I loved their signature Rum Drink. After supper we went to the gift shop and we made a necklace for Laney's mom, she had been wanting to get her something, and a few t-shirts and headed back to the room. It was a little after seven and the plan was to head to the pool for a late night swim. For me up to the swim-up bar, for her, a swim. We were unpacking from the day and I told her to charge her phone. She said ok, and I could hear it in her voice. I asked, "Where is your phone?"

She recovered and sounded ok, but it was all over her face and she said, "In your backpack."

I knew it right then. She had lost it. A new iPhone that I had bought her about a month ago. I hadn't wanted to get her a phone at 11, but her mom told me that she thought she needed one to get used to having it with her. Next year she will be coming home from school by herself, and she'd need a phone to let her mom or me that she made it home and for emergencies. Did she need a brand new iPhone? Probably not, but it was time for me to upgrade, and I figured if I got her the phone than I would be able to have a little more say in how she uses it and I could  monitor what she does on it easier if she was on my plan. It's not that my ex-wife wouldn't monitor her or what she does with it, I just wanted to be able to do that without bugging her if that makes sense.

So we bought a new phone, thanks to a good saleslady and she went on my plan. Her mom and I discussed the rules and they are pretty much the same at both of our houses. I stressed on maybe eight or even as many as ten times the importance of not losing it. I stressed multiple times how much it cost. I stressed multiple times that if she does lose it, she needs to notify me right away so I can see if I can't find it.

Now she didn't lie, but I knew from the sound of her voice she wasn't sure it was in my backpack. She was scared, and I understand that, but that pissed me off as well.

I yelled, and I'm not really a yeller. My first objective was to get the phone back and I pulled up the find my phone app. Of course hers wasn't on there for some reason so we jogged to my jeep and headed back to the Rainforest Café, the last place we both knew she had it. I called Verizon, and they were helpful but needed Apple to help me locate it, so they put me on hold.

This is when I started lecturing her. And as I was doing it, I knew I was intentionally trying to make her feel worse than she already did. I was telling her that if we didn't find it, I was considering canceling the rest of our trip and going home the next morning. I was telling her that I thought she was responsible, and how disappointed I was. I was telling her how many hours I had to work to make six hundred dollars, which was also a way to remind her how much it cost. I told her how much my monthly bill has gone up several times, and in a very condescending tone asked her if she had the sixty dollars a month to cover it. She sat in the car and didn't say a thing.

I started to wonder why she wasn't crying. And then it hit me. I was trying to make her cry.

Which made me want to cry.

We made it to the parking lot of Animal Kingdom and jogged back into Rainforest Café. Laney ran to the bathroom to see if she left it in there. As soon as the girl who checked us out at the gift shop saw me she smiled and said, "I got it!' I went to the bathroom and waited for my child. Poor kid was having to wait in line each time to check each stall in the ladies room.

The Verizon lady finally came back on and I told her we had found it. We drove in pretty much silence back to the resort. I was upset that she had lost it, happy that we had found it, and upset that I had spoken to her the way I had.

When I parked I said, "We need to talk about this."

And then her tears came. And we talked about it. And to be completely honest, mine did as well. Tears of joy that I didn't have to pay the hundred dollar deductible? Maybe, or maybe tears because I had intentionally trying to make her cry.

This parenting thing can kinda suck sometimes.

Se we talked rationally about the importance of keeping track of her phone. She was steady crying most of the time, and then when we were walking back to the room she asked me if we were leaving? She wanted to know if her punishment was that we had to leave a day early.

If you saw a grown man choking back tears hugging his daughter and saying that the incident was over, and we were still going to the pool that night and going to finish our vacation in style in front of All Star Movies Resort 101 Dalmatians Building One, yeah, that was us.

I thought a lot about this on the drive back today. I never planned for how I would react if she lost the phone. I'm a very, "what if-then" thinker. Any cop whose been working for a while would be. We all have to think, every time we put on our uniform, if this happens than I will do this during a shift quite often. For example, if I pull a car over I'll immediately think, "If this guy pulls a gun, my best cover is at the trunk, or over on the side of the road by the big Oak tree, if my car gets struck I'm in a good spot and the wheels are turned so I'm going to approach the drivers side, if the passenger gets out and runs, I'm sticking with the driver." 

Almost twenty years as a cop I've done a good bit of "if this-then that" thinking when it comes to parenting. But, as I thought about that some more, I can't do that with everything. Who would have thought, if my daughter loses her iPhone at the Rainforest Café at Animal Kingdom I'll react this way?

This parenting thing, a good bit of it is really just winging it. And that kind of sucks. Because when you don't have a plan, your reaction is more emotional than planned.

When we got home I brought it up again, and we talked a bit more. And I apologized for how I reacted to her losing her phone. I explained that I was mad and was saying things that I didn't necessarily believe. I reiterated that she needs to be responsible with the phone, but sometimes we all say things in anger that we don't believe.

I think she understood. Then she asked me if she could get a cookie. I told her that was fine, and she said, "Since you're apologizing, can I get like three cookies?"

Yep, I'm just gonna keep winging it.



(side-note) I went back and edited my last post. When I re-read it tonight it made me sound like I didn't care about the gay-marriage issue. I do, and am happy that gay and lesbian couples can marry. I was trying to say that I didn't understand the fight against it, if that makes sense. I'm conservative on some issues, and liberal on others. What I was trying to say was I don't understand this fight about the transgender bathrooms, and why it's being pushed in the media. Hope that clears that up.