July 26, 2011


"Daddy, why didn't we go to the fireworks tonight?" - Carter Willey

The Sunday night before the Fourth of July was one of those nights that I am never going to get back with my kids.  Any other Sunday it would have been fine, but this just so happened to be the night of the big Kaboom! fireworks display in Red Bank, New Jersey.  We have made it a point to see this show every year, even before we had kids.  It's really awesome.  These type of events only happen once a year so it gets me a little depressed that I am not able to share the moments with my kids.  They are only going to be this age once and the memories that we make on nights like that Sunday last a lifetime.  That night though I'll remember it for another reason, we decided to use it as a lesson for our youngest son Carter.

Carter has always been a more emotional child than our other son Tyler.  When something happens not to his liking, for him it's as if the world was ending.  He could literally scream for half an hour over something as little as wearing the wrong color socks.  It can be difficult to deal with.  That day was no different.  A lot of Carter's problems stem from a lack of sleep.  If there was a child that could benefit from an afternoon nap it would be him, but if he did take one he wouldn't go to bed until 11:00 at night.  It's kind of a tricky situation, because he is also not the kind of child that is going to sleep in past 8:00 in the morning.  In the few days leading up to that Sunday Carter had been going to bed later than usual, a lot of that had to deal with plans that we had made and the fact that my wife gets home from work so late.  She would like to see the kids before they go to bed so something has to give.  What happens then is that you have a Carter that is unstable at times and also cranky from a lack of sleep.  It's kind of a perfect storm minus George Clooney and his fishing boat.  It's partially our fault but the bay has got to learn.

He was OK throughout the course of the day, even fine when we went to go see Mr. Popper's Penguins, but afterward was when the trouble started.  Carter has a tendency, understatement there, to demand things, you know he doesn't use please all the time and will scream until he gets his way.  It's easy to give in just to shut him up sometimes.  I know that we have made mistakes as parents by letting him take charge of a situation, but as parents know, it can be difficult dealing with this type of kid.  The easy way out is not necessarily the best way out. Screaming in the car turned into a full blown tantrum when we got home,

The decision was made that he would not see the fireworks that night and I would be the one to stay home.  I would have rather him stayed there by himself, but alas, that was obviously not an option.  So while Tyler went with my wife to the show, Carter and I stayed home.  It was getting late anyway and he probably would have fallen asleep on the way there but when you get a chance to teach your child a valuable lesson, you have to jump at it.  Besides this was a big event, surely this was a moment that would stick with him and the lesson learned would go a long way toward improving his behavior.  As we laid in bed that night we began discussing why we didn't go see the show:
"Daddy, why didn't we go to the fireworks tonight"
"Because you were doing things that mommy and daddy didn't like" 
"Daddy, was it crowded at the fireworks tonight?
"Oh yeah, there was a lot of people there."
"So why didn't we go?"
"We are trying to teach you that it's not nice nice to be mean" 
"No!  We didn't go because it was too crowded."
Somehow I don't think he learned his lesson.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?



  1. You have no idea how much I can relate to this story. Including the part where despite our best efforts they still manage to invent their own reality in which there is no lesson at all. Damn these kids are good!

    Great story: funny, touching and frighteningly familiar!

  2. Happens all the time... I think my kids live in an alternate universe or something.