Wildwoods: the Fun, the Screen, and the Drama

Just wrapped up our last vacation for the summer. We rented a house just a block from the beach at Wildwoods. We had six adults and six boys ranging from two to nine years olds. Most of the time we had fun. In the morning, we took the kids out biking on the boardwalk for about an hour. We ate late breakfast then took the boys to the beach for two hours. We ate late lunch than hang out at the rental house and took nap. After dinner, we headed to the boardwalk for arcades and games. It was not a bad routine to spend a week vacation.

My only issue was the screen time. I wouldn’t mind if they spent one, two or three hours the most a day on iPads. One of the cousins, however, jumped on it every chance he had. If he was not biking, swimming, eating, or sleeping, he was on the iPad. When Đạo and Đán were not allowed screen time, they gathered around the cousin like two dogs waiting for a bone. I felt bad and caved in, especially in the hot afternoons when all the adults were tired. I wanted to take them out for mini-golf or something, but I could not have handled five kids all by myself. So I ended up taking Xuân to the tram car. We just rode from one end of the boardwalk to the other until he fell asleep. He loved riding the tram car with me. He requested it everyday.

With six boys living together, drama was inevitable and it was my biggest concern. One minute they played together the next minute they argued and so on. Đạo and Đán have the tendency to evoke friction and I am working hard on correcting it. For instance, when they said something the cousin didn’t like they wouldn’t stop. Whenever I was around, I had to tell them to stop. Đạo learned his lesson when the cousin punched him in the stomach. He didn’t punch back, but he told me about it and my response was, “Well, he told you to stop saying it, but you didn’t so you just have to take it. Next time, when he tells you to stop, you stop.”

Then it was Đán’s turn. He got the cousin pissed off in an argument, but the cousin knew Đán is not Đạo. Đán wouldn’t take punches. He would fight back. The cousin told Đán, “My mom told me I can punch you in the face if you don’t stop.” I didn’t know what they were arguing about, but I was shocked when I heard that. I confronted his mom, “Did you teach him that?” Her response was, “Yes, if they don’t stop when he told them to stop.” I was pissed, but I understood why a mother would teach her kid that. My boys need to learn their lesson. They should have known better. I would not stand by their side if the fault is theirs. Still, I don’t condone punching in the face.

I walked away and gave it some thoughts. The kids were back to normal playing nice with each other. I sat all three of them down and said to the cousin, “If you tell Đạo or Đán to stop saying something you don’t like and they kept saying it, tell them that you will tell me or their mom.” I turned to my boys, “If he tells me that he has to repeat the second time, I will punish you.” I turned back to the cousin, “Just tell me and I will punish them. You can punch them in the face, but they can also punch you back. Do you really want to hurt each other? You guys are family.” I hope that solved the violence.

Other than one or two minor frictions, we got along just fine. We just have different ways of raising our kids. I do not have anything to say about other parenting styles. I am just trying to do my part to keep the vibe cool and enjoyable, especially when we stay together. I hope the boys will get along better as they grow older. Now they are just being kids. We’ll face more drama with the next group. I am hoping the next four will be less dramatic than the older four. We’ll see.