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'I Told Them Their Teeth Were Going to Fall Out'

Photograph by Getty Images

I spent a week traveling—in a foreign country, no less—with two boys (and no husband). Before I pat myself on the back too much, I have a few confessions to make.

I cut myself a little slack. OK, a lot of slack.

Here we go …

1. Independent Studies Was Really Independent

As in, we skipped a few pages. What are they going to learn more from? Another math worksheet or counting foreign coins to buy trinkets from roadside vendors? And I didn’t check their travel journals. I call it “honoring their privacy.”

2. I Let Them Eat Junk Food

As in McDonald’s four times in a week. Some meals, I made the kids try fried taro root or dumplings stuffed with green vegetables. But chicken feet? Even I prefer them ground up into nuggets. Yup, we’re Ugly Americans.

RELATED: 7 Parenting Mistakes I Made This Week

3. We Watched Cartoons Every Night

And not the educational kind. I’m talking Sponge Bob and Adventure Time and anime programs whose names I don’t remember. Hey, they were all translated completely into Mandarin!

4. Bedtime? What Bedtime?

Some parents are sticklers for schedules while on vacation. Me, I’m a stickler for enjoying my trip, and that means eating dinner out and spending the evenings wandering around town. Also see: cartoons.

5. I Let Them Visit Arcades ... Almost Every Day

Sure, some of them were basically the same as Chuck E. Cheese's, but others were homegrown carnival booths where the boys had a chance to try their luck at old-fashioned feats of skill, such as attempting to catch goldfish and little turtles with flimsy paper nets.

Then, I let them turn in their tickets for plastic samurai swords and dart guns.

6. Save or Spend? Spend!

The boys received red envelopes full of cash from cheek-pinching relatives. Did I make them save it for college? No, I let them fritter it away on toys and carnival games. After all, the exchange rate isn’t that great, and they’d lose a percentage on transaction fees. Lesson learned in foreign commodities.

RELATED: My Baby Fell Off the Bed

7. I Told Them Their Teeth Would Fall out If They Didn't Brush Every Night

While traveling, we met people from poor rural areas as well as tourists from other countries where the dental care isn’t so good (or nonexistent). When Little Brother was shocked by the sight of seeing middle-aged people (“Not much older than you, mommy!”) missing their front teeth, I warned them that’s what happens if you don’t brush and floss regularly.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who lets the rules slide sometimes.

What parenting mistakes did you make last week?

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