I just got home from a large family-reunion type party to celebrate my grandmother’s 85th birthday.  While family gatherings are always fun, I find them completely exhausting, especially now that my youngest has turned one and I basically have two toddlers to manage (or “little cavemen” as my husband likes to call them).

Sunday spaghetti dinners at my grandmother’s house are a fond childhood memory for me.  My grandmother had 8 children (God bless her!) and she always had a full house for Sunday dinners.  Growing up, I was close with my aunts, uncles and cousins, which was nice since I was an only child and didn’t have siblings of my own.  Some of my favorite memories from growing up are of playing with and chasing after my cousins.  In the winter, everybody’s coats would be piled high on my grandparents’ bed and my cousins and I would take turns running full speed and jumping onto the fluffy mountain of jackets giggling and screeching with joy.

Today, I heard the same squeals of delight that used to come from my cousins and I as my daughters ran wild with my cousins’ children.  It was such a familiar scene, only now with a new cast.  I was alarmed to find myself playing the role of a not-so-amused mommy with no idea how to control the situation.

I want my kids to have fun and run and play with their cousins just like I remember doing as a child BUT there has to be some sense of order, doesn’t there?  I cannot standby quietly as my daughter helps herself to endless cookies, candy and lollipops even if she did eat a good portion of her lunch.  As the sugar rush set in, the shoes came off and the girls were soon slipping and sliding in their stocking feet across the banquet hall floor.  I know first hand that this is fun but my patience was already wearing thin and then I was hit square in the forehead with my daughter’s black mary-jane that she had decided to fling across the room.  Holding my 1-year old in one arm, I grabbed my shoe-flinging offspring by the back of her velvet dress with my other arm and carried her (against her will) into the hallway for some much needed quiet time.  I tried to explain to her why she has to keep her shoes on, why she needs to stay off the dirty floor and why she needs to listen to me when I ask her to slow down and use walking feet.  For the most part, my explanations fell on deaf ears but I felt like I had to do something.  

I contemplated calling on my husband to handle the situation but he takes more of a “no-nonsense” approach and probably would  have just brought her outside kicking and screaming for a psuedo time-out in the car  and I did not want to make her leave a party with family members she hardly ever sees.

So herein lies the dillemma, how can I let my kids have fun and enjoy themselves without letting all discipline (and my sanity) slip away?  Was this how my mom and aunts felt all those years that I was having fun running wild as a child?  Or am I just looking at it from a new perspective?  Because I don’t remember my mom or aunts being upset and I don’t remember anybody getting in trouble but I sure do remember having fun.

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