You are here

Are you good at being the bad guy?

I’m just surfacing from a weekend of beaches and boats and late nights and BBQs and sparklers and s’mores…and mornings that come way too early. Nick and I were so spent we actually celebrated the 4th by ordering Chinese takeout and watching Weeds. Then passing out at 9:30 p.m. Very American, huh? The first part of the weekend, I’ll admit, was adult fun (we went to a wedding rager Friday night and did a boat trip with friends on Saturday—my babysitters scored), but the second half was all about the kids. Sunday and Monday we were out on the north fork of Long Island with my sisters, their families and my sister’s best friend, who has a condo on the water out there. It was an impromptu trip—we piled in the car at around 3 p.m. on Sunday—and it was fantastic. There’s a huge lawn in front of all the units which all face the Long Island Sound. Boats, a beach, a pool and a laid-back, we’re-all-friends kinda vibe with the neighbors. It’s a gorgeous spot and it’s made for kids. Almost to a fault…


After a day of every awesome summer activity you can think of, the kids (including a gaggle of neighbors, who Alex referred to as “my new cousins”) were chilling on the lawn semi-quietly, sparklers all burned out, s’mores all digested. Nora and my nephew, Gregory, were asleep and the adults were sitting on the deck. Just as things seemed to be officially winding down (at 10 p.m.!) a new girl strolled over with glow sticks for everyone and, well, you’ve seen kids around glow sticks, right? In an instant they’re all running wild again. And I’m starting to get annoyed. Because we had just ordered dinner and I wanted to sit with a glass of wine and eat and relax and not worry about my kid. And did I mention it was 10 p.m.? I was trying to be cool because A: It was a holiday weekend, B: Alex had taken a nap and was having an absolute ball, C: We were guests and the other parents didn’t seem to be worried and D: I didn’t feel like wrestling Alex to the ground, which is what would have happened if I told him he had to go to bed.


Just as I’m talking myself down from a mom meltdown (“Get the #%@ in the house, it’s 10 $&@! o’clock,” is what I might have said if I weren’t in vacation mode), all the kids go charging down to the glow stick girl’s condo, which is visible but far. I waited a minute. Then two. None of the other parents we were with seemed to mind (likely since their kids are older than Alex and they actually live there, too) so I volunteered myself to head down and see what was up. I walked all the way to the last condo, passing mostly darkened units, and confronted the very intimidating group of sugared-up kids, “OK, everyone, you can keep playing (wimp!) but you’ve got to play down by us.” The father of the ringleader agreed since said ringleader was older than the rest of the kids by at least five years. So they all followed me, waving their different colored glow sticks and I thought, victory! We’ll get back to the condo and I can sneak Alex upstairs and put him to bed so I can relax and eat my dinner. But about 20 yards from our place, the ringleader yelled some command and suddenly seven kids scatter. In the pitch dark. “What’s going on?” I ask her, still trying to be cool (why? What’s my deal? I don’t need a 12 year old to like me!) and she said, “we’re playing manhunt.” Oh. Manhunt. Yeah, I remember manhunt. And it’s not happening on my watch. But did I have the you-know-whats to stop it? Not quite…

Fortunately I had taken note that Alex had a blue glow stick and I went around to the other side of the condos to the parking lot (they were playing in the parking lot!). Of course I run into Nick who’s back with the food and a little confused that our not-even-four year old is hiding in someone’s hydrangea bush and I seem to have no control over the situation. (This is not an illusion, I actually don’t have control.) My sister, Melissa, comes around the bend and I implore her—with a dirty look and a few WTFs—to help me and, well, let’s just say my sister doesn’t have a problem being the bad guy. Within five minutes my nephew, Andrew, was on the couch, the other kids had scurried back to the condo with the cool dad and Nick grabbed an inconsolable Alex and took him for a drive to get him to fall asleep, which he did in about two minutes. Epic fail on my part. Fortunately I had a bowl of tzatziki and a glass of wine to console me.


So, what would you have done? Before you answer, know that this was a tough one. It involved other kids. Older kids. Vacation. Staying in someone else’s home with someone else’s rules. And my utter exhaustion.  But I want to know: Are you guys good at laying down the law? At breaking up the fun? At being the mom all the kids rolls their eyes at (if only for a split second)? Do tell! Clearly I need a few tips.