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Single Dad and the UnVacation

When I first started writing these blogs, I knew I would have gobs plenty (rural Indiana dialect term) of  “single parent raising two girls” stories to share. You know, cell phones, chores, boys, drama and everything else that is part of my household on a daily basis. I know there are a few readers of this blog who have kids a bit younger than mine. So, to do my part in providing “parenting insight” I thought I would chronicle a day in the life of the “Disney Channel Generation.” Aptly named due to the influence and rise of the Disney Channel (and Nick) programming for the ages  of 10 to 18  (aka: tweens to teens).

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a week off of work. Due to various circumstances, things didn’t turn out as I had planned. Hence, it became nothing more than an interesting week off of work. There was no trip to the Wisconsin Dells as was had planned. No overnight stay in Chicago to visit the Science and Field museums. It turned out to be just a plain old boring week off.

Before I go any further, let me provide a quick bio background of my kids. “M” is an 11-year-old girl full of spit and vinegar. She is a fun-loving kid who has a quirky little sense of humor (hmmm..wonder where that came from) and is smiling and laughing 98 percent of the time. “K” is a 16-year-old girl who is a polar opposite of M. She is quiet, reserved, very much to herself, and doesn’t get in a big hurry to do much of anything. At 16, she is trying to figure out where she fits into this world. Both girls are honor roll students, and for the most part, really good kids.

Disclaimer: I must state that I love my children more than anything in this world and there is NOTHING I wouldn’t do for them. This is not an attempt to belittle or embarrass them. Simply a glimpse into what you parents with toddlers/single digit aged kids might have to look forward to in the coming years. Now sit back, and enjoy the show…and please put your cell phones on silent. Thank you.

For better understanding, I’ve chronicled one of the days during my “vacation” week:

7:25 am: M is up and at’em. TV in the loft is blaring. She shuffles downstairs to find something for breakfast (she’s “starving!”). She finds a granola bar. Scarves it down, then on to Facebook.

7:50 am: M: “what are we gonna do today?” Me: “I have no idea. It’s supposed to be really hot, so we’ll have to see.” M: “Ok, can we maybe go to a pool or something?” Me: “We’ll see. A lot will depend you and your sister’s attitudes.”

8:30 am: M is back in the kitchen. She is “still starving.” She eats some cookies and back on Facebook…again.

9:30 am: M: “What are our chores today? I want to get mine done so I won’t have to worry about them.” Me: “We will probably clean up the kitchen today.” M: “Okay, can we get going on it?” Me: “Not until your sister gets up. She needs to help.” M: “Okay. What are having for lunch?”

10:30 am: M: “Can we please get going on the kitchen? I am tired of waiting.” Me: “Go try to wake your sister up.” M: “Okay. Do you know what we are having for lunch yet? I’m starving.” Me: “Not yet. I’m sure you won’t go hungry, though.”

10:35 am: M: “She wouldn’t answer me. I just want to get done.”

10:40-11:20: M and I clean the kitchen.

11:30 am: K finally gets up.

11:45 am: K comes downstairs. M: “Nice of you to help us clean up the kitchen.” K: “No one told me I had to do anything. What am I suppose to do?” Me: “It’s already done.” K: (no response) M: “You know dad expects us to do something little to help out around the house every day.” K: “Well no one told me. I didn’t think we had to do anything since he was on vacation.”

12:00 pm: K permanently planted on the couch, cell phone firmly attached to her hand. She is “tired.” M on Facebook…still.

1 pm: K hasn’t moved from the couch. M up and down all throughout the house.

2:30 pm: K now asleep on the couch. M downstairs playing the drums…LOUD!

5:00 pm: K wakes up and asks, “When are we going to mom’s?” Me: “Are you not gonna do anything around the house today?” K: “You didn’t say I had to…plus I don’t know what you want me to do. When are we going to mom’s?”

5:30 pm: Dropped the  kids at  their mom’s house.

This is just a glimpse into the daily life at my house. Although it’s only one day, it’s pretty much a daily routine. Now, I have to question myself. Have I failed miserably as a parent? One kid wants to eat and be on Facebook all day. The other has the motivation/initiative of a snail on valium. Where are the values of hard work and helping out that I have tried to instill in these girls? Is summer vacation (for kids out of school) really meant to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING? (I have heard this comment on more than one occasion: “It’s my summer break, I shouldn’t have to do anything!”)

Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t get it. Which leads me to this: If you watch any of the “tween” shows on TV these days an underlying theme present in a vast majority of the programming is NO ACCOUNTABLITY. Kids misbehave, get into mischief, scheme, lie, back talk, and everything else you can imagine without repercussions.  Whatever the outcome is, the characters are never held accountable for their actions. They just float through a life filled with roses, candy, and balloons.

Has the TV life of true fiction really influenced today’s 10 thru 18 year olds? Do the underlying themes on some of the current shows have over-riding priority over parental teaching? I guess I have A LOT more questions than answers on this one. All I want is a little effort, initiative, and accountability. Thanks Carly, Bieber and Hannah. Thanks for nothing.

If any of you have suggestions or comments on how to better relate to the Disney Generation, I’m all ears (pun intended).

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[author_info]About the Author

Robb J. is one of our regular Parenting and Man Cave contributors who is stuck somewhere in the middle of a paradigm shift and the status quo. He is a  41-year-old single dad who likes swimming in the deep end without the use of floaties. He raises two daughters–a teen and a preteen. He would appreciate a moment of silence for that. [/author_info][/author]

Image: PictureYouth

Stuck somewhere in the middle of a paradigm shift and the status quo, Robb J. is a 41-year-old, single dad who likes swimming in the deep end without the use of floaties. Born and raised in small community in central Indiana (and living in the fame and popularity shadow of brunette cheerleaders who were a year older), he lives his life with small town values, while never taking himself or life’s daily dilemmas too serious.


  1. Lisa

    July 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    OMG! I thought you were at my house…(well, almost) I have a 14 yr old who is starving 24/7, ALWAYS watching Disney or Nick, sitting on the couch with phone or laptop in hand (FB). And then my 18 yr old will sleep until 4, maybe eat, go to work and then stay up til 4 am and do it all over again.. KIDS!

  2. Michele Elamon

    July 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I loved this!! You are very funny.. As I totaly understand what you are going though.. I raised 4 kids of my own and Gordons 2…. Girls are the hardest!! Hang in there it does get better I PROMISE!!!


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