Today I am thankful for life lessons for the boys that are probably really more of a reminder for myself.
Camping has been a blast and we’re all having a good time. The cousins are having a lot of fun fishing and the adults are enjoying the kids getting older and needing less supervision. It’s crazy to see how much less stress there is camping now that they’ve gotten older.
That being said, we damn near had a total meltdown of possibly epic proportions. The campground has a vending machine and the cousins love getting all types of goodies from it. As we ended our trek to the cousins’ version of the camping holy land, it went from a walk full of promise to the boulevard of broken dreams.
The vending machine was broken and didn’t take quarters (but it would take dollar bills). Guess who’s got two thumbs and about 5 pounds of quarters? This guy! As I explained to my boys that they were out of luck the frustrations bubbled up to the surface. “Stupid vending machine” and other frustrated and angry comments were made. Seeing a fatherly advice window open I told them to stop complaining and asked the boys for other options. What are ways we could solve this?”
After taking a few seconds to calm down they started thinking of options ranging from asking the camp host for help, asking people if they’d trade singles for our quarters and even having me check my wallet for singles. Luckily for them, I found a few singles in my wallet and we were able to get some snackage from the machine. Gavin even won the candy lottery, his Lifesavers fell onto a pack of gum, knocking it down also for the two-fee.
Disaster averted, I asked them what else we could’ve done. All their ideas kept going back to the vending machine so I threw them a curveball. I asked them why we went to the vending machine in the first place. “To get candy.” So I asked them what are other ways to get candy and they both kind of cocked their heads at me as they thought. “Drive to a gas station?” “Drive to a grocery store?” As we talked about it they started to realize that either of those options would have resulted in a wider selection of candy and at lower prices.
I explained that it can be very easy to tunnel vision on one idea and totally lose sight of the “why,” the thing you were trying to fix or solve. As we talked about it I explained that recency and tunnel vision can cause us to miss many better solutions to things, but it’s an easy trap to fall into. One of the ways to help prevent it is to zoom out, take a pause, remember the “why,”and then reset your thinking process.
It seemed like they started to get it, we jumped back into full on camping mode and they took off chasing after some cousins. As I had a second to think about it I couldn’t help but smile and wonder who needed that advice more, the boys or me?
It still amazes me how many times that I share some “fatherly advice” or have a “dad talk” and afterwards I realized that I should probably take my own advice and maybe I gave the advice because deep down I knew that I needed it. Either way, I’m hoping it all helps… The boys and me.