It took me six months to plan it, three months to pay for it and less than a week to cancel it entirely, losing about $650 in the process. Here was the itinerary:
- 12/26 – Early morning pickup of Z, heading up to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo for a day of wild rides and coaster fun followed by an evening of watching Z ooh and ahh over the Holiday in the Park decor and the World’s Largest Christmas Tree. The rest of the plan was going to be laid out to her while we sat under this 125 foot tall glowing wonder.
- 12/27 – Sleep in at home then head south once we’ve awoken fully rested from a wild and crazy day because there’s plenty more to come. We’d stop when we hit Valencia, home of Six Flags Magic Mountain and the most roller coaster in one location West of the Mississippi. If we made it there before closing we’d head in and catch a few rides before retiring to our motel to rest up for the next big day.
- 12/28 – All day at Magic Mountain using our Thrill Pass to bypass all of the lines, chow down at the free buffet, and shop to our hearts content in order to save back the cost of the passes and then some. With more than a dozen coasters (several still on my haven’t ridden list) this place is thrill ride Mecca. Plus we could add a half-dozen ride photos to our slowly growing collection.
- 12/29 – After staying a second night in Valencia we’d get up early and head down to Universal Studios Hollywood. We’d start the day with our traditional Saturday morning breakfast (the single event I look forward to each and every week) at the famous Saddle Ranch Chop House on Universal’s City Walk. I’ve been to Universal a few times in the past and not much really changes there, but they do have a single roller coaster, The Mummy, I need to cross off my list. The rest of the day would be up to Z. Though I was looking forward to watching her joy at experiencing her first look at the behind-the scenes action of a real movie studio. Our VIP passes even gets us backstage at the live shows as well as extra stuff beyond the standard studio tour.
- 12/30 – Knott’s Berry Farm is scheduled for Sunday as that’s typically a less crowded day than Saturday. Knott’s has always been my favorite theme park (as opposed to pure amusement park) and this would be Z’s first time attending. In addition to eight more roller coasters (3 on my unridden list), Knott’s is full of amazing adventures. Plus it will actually be Knott’s Merry Farm, so the evening would bring another Christmas parade and plenty of decorations to warm Z’s Santa-lovin’ heart.
- 12/31 – Winding things down on New Year’s Eve. After sleeping in we’d head over to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum (Z’s a big Ripley’s fan) and possibly one of the Wax Museums as well. The afternoon would bring us to Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier to add two more coasters to our trip total and for Z to experience an alternative boardwalk amusement park to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (our home park). Then we’d head home after hitting six major attractions (and more than 30 roller coasters) in six short days.
Sound exhausting? Yeah it does to me too, but I have a feeling the adrenaline and joy would pull us through and Z would have all the way to January 5th to recover before heading back to school. Everything was lined up perfectly. But now it’s gone….
I’ve mentioned Z’s brattiness and spoiled attitude here in the past, mostly in passing. Well, it’s become simply intolerable. I’ve tried rewarding her when she does well, punishing her when she does poorly, too many talks to keep track of, bribery, coercion, and just about everything else I can think of short of outright physical violence (which is not only anti-thetical to my entire belief system but ineffective as well). Nothing can get through to this girl.
Part of the problem is that I can’t completely control her environment. X, her mother, is getting better but still a pushover on too many things. The kids act spoiled because they are spoiled. Neiher of us is wealthy but we’ve always done our damndest to give the kids everything we can. About six weeks ago I got so fed up with this spoiled Z that I took away everything I’d bought her in the last several months. It had all been acquired under false pretenses – she acts like a different person with me then without me. The effect – she cried and then kept on being a spoiled brat. During that time she was still serving a repeated punishment (because she violated the rules the first time) for talking back to her mother and I. The effects of that lasted a record 48 hours (the punishment went on for two months all told).
After calling off the trip yesterday (when she flat out refused to listen to me and clean her room instead of continuing to order her brother to clean his part of the mess) and leaving the house I felt I needed to have an actual discussion with her about it today. So I went to pick her up from school and talk. Unfortunately, she wasn’t interested in a discussion so it became yet another lecture. Our brief history has shown that these obviously have no effect, so I kept it relatively short – I told her the bare bones of the trip I described more fully in this post. Her response (when forced to give one) was “I’m thinking ‘what do I have to do to earn that trip back?'” She still doesn’t get it, no matter how many times or ways I explain it to her: being good for the simple sake of the reward isn’t being good at all. The key is to simply be (and do) good, and trust that good things will come of it. The work must come before the reward.
Shortly after I returned home X called to encourage me to reconsider the trip. the financial loss is a steep one, not to mention how much I’ve been looking forward to it myself. She then went on to tell me how Z walked into the house after our talk and immediately began giving her (X) attitude. (See, nothing gets through.) X is at the end of her rope and considering returning some of the (way too many) Christmas gifts she got the kids. I’m 100% behind the idea. As far as I’m concerned Z’s on the equivalent of bread and water. I’m not spending any more money on gifts, luxuries, or experiences until she can start to show some actual adjustments to her behavior. She’ll get food, rides to school, clothes. Period.
I think I could actually turn things around if I had 24 hour care of Z, but X will never allow that to happen. Even temporarily. So, since I don’t have the power to change the behavior I’m no longer going to support it in any way. I’ll keep her alive, but her happiness is entirely in Z’s hands.