The other day, a few of us ladies from work were standing around the water cooler. (Truly, we were. Does it make my life a bad cliche??) One of my friends -- I'll call her Crystal, because, umm, that's her name -- was filling us in on her current dilemma.
Crystal has two sons, 8 and 3. She and her husband had talked about taking the boys to Disney this March, but both were hesitating because, although they really want the 8 year old to have the experience, the 3 year old is.... well, I was going to be kind and say "he's a typical 3 year old", but that wouldn't do the situation justice. I'm sure he will grow to become a lovely child, but for now he is an unholy terror who exhausts his parents, his daycare teachers, his grandparents, and anyone who comes in contact with him. The 8 year old, on the other hand, is a shy, quiet boy who often defers to his boisterous younger brother.
Anyway, Crystal's dilemma was that she and her husband came to the realization that they simply can't face this vacation. And then her husband said, "But there's no reason you can't take Older Son, just the two of you."
So Crystal wanted to talk the situation out in front of us. I said, "I think that's a fabulous idea. Little Son is too young to remember anything about an expensive trip, any way, and it will give Older Son time alone with you."
Then another co-worker, I'll call her Esther because it's not her name, freaked out, "No, that's WRONG. Either it's about the WHOLE family or you DON'T do it. Leaving your son behind is WRONG, how could you CONSIDER it? That's just being selfish."
I tried to point out that Crystal wouldn't exactly be leaving her son behind alone, huddled next to a dumpster in a snowbank. He would stay home, having Daddy's undivided attention, while Older Son could have Mummy's undivided attention at Disney. Everybody wins. Esther has two grown children herself, whose age difference is pretty much on par with Crystal's kids, so I thought she would be more sympathetic, but I was floored by how rigid her thinking was. (Granted, she's also the same person who thinks single mothers should have their children taken away from them if they ever have trouble paying the bills....)
Don't get me wrong, Esther is a lovely, warm, friendly woman who would give you the shirt off her back. But when she gets an idea in her head about how you should raise your children? Fuggettaboutit.
Crystal walked away from the conversation, clearly a little down and guilt ridden. I cornered her privately later and told her how my best friend, also mother to two boys, literally schedules "Alone Time" with each of her two sons every week. Yes, family time IS a very important thing.... but remembering that your children are individuals who require individual attention is sometimes more important.
I hope Crystal goes, just the two of them.