• This past weekend my family and I went down to visit our cousins in Palm Springs.  We don’t get to see them often and had planned to sleep there overnight since we were scheduled to have a late dinner and it was a two-hour drive back to Los Angeles.  I thought it would be fun for my children to “hang-out” and get to know their cousins.  The night started off pretty well as everyone was excited to map-out and connect how they were each related to one another.  Then they went off to play.   Their children are about the same ages as ours, so we figured it would be a good match.

    About a half an hour into their play I heard screaming and arguing from upstairs as one of my children came running down the stairs with a toy gun in his hand yelling, “Dad hep me.”  On his tail, in hot pursuit, was his cousin who bumped into him as they halted at he bottom of the stairs.  They each were out of breath but somehow still arguing loudly.  I shook my head in disbelief, turned to my son and asked, “what’s is that thing in your hand?” I realized that it was a toy gun and my nine year-old knew that he wasn’t suppose to be playing with any type of gun.  Those are our “house rules.” But I figured they were with their cousins, whom they hadn’t seen in a while and they just want to have a good time.  So, why not?  I told them to figure it out and make sure to share turns, as they ran back upstairs rejuvenated.  The next thing I know, they’re arguing again and I see my kids scattered throughout the house.  One is glued to a video game, another is eating Tangy Taffy, another is showing off fake-tatoos, while the last one was still playing with guns and swords.  All of which they would never be allow to do at home.  I scratched my head and wondered, ‘what happened to my kids?’

    Then I realized that it wasn’t my kids but it was up to me and I had had enough.  The kids were fighting and partaking in activities, which they were normally forbidden and none of us were happy.  So, I put a stop to it and had a quick huddle with my kids (which I probably should have done before we got there).  I reinstated all the rules they normally have to follow at home.  After a brief minute of awkwardness, like magic, the arguments had stopped and the children all sat down to play board games.  It’s not the first time we’ve gone to people’s houses and I was more lax on the rules so the kids could have fun and accommodate their hosts. Of course, tt happens but never to this extent.  However, I decided that it was the last time that I would get so lax.  There’s no reason for my children (or myself) to forego their values and rules so they can “fit in.”  Yes, it’s okay to be different and they will still have fun!