I was inspired to share this story after reading Dana Murphy’s description of being “that mom with those kids.” It doesn’t happen often in my house, but when it does, it is a spectacular sight, and I become “that mom with those kids.”
Picture it. Two kids ages 3 and 6. Sweet kids, good kids. The kids and I walking hand in hand into Target. They are skipping and smiling. Why? Because Daddy is coming back today (Sunday) from being gone since Wednesday ice fishing and they are getting a reward for being so helpful all weekend. We are laughing and talking. I am explaining that they will each have $5 to spend and after they choose we need to pick up a few food items. Everyone is on board and excited.
Jack picks first because he is the youngest and I know that his choice will entertain him while his sister chooses. He does not yet fully understand money, but when faced with a few items in his $5 limit, he decides on some cars. Wise choice my young one.
Enter Becca into the picture. We traverse the aisles of Target. Barbie? No. Dolls? Too expensive and babyish. Ponies? No. Pollys? Absolutely not mom. As we make our second go-round, she decides she wants a Barbie. Ok. I got this. A whole aisle of Barbies, complete with one section of just dolls for $4.49. I show her where her choices are. No go. She points to the $9.99 next to them because it has some bedazzled extra stuff in the package. I explain that we only each have $5 to spend and she can choose from here, again I point to said section of Barbie wonderland, or we can journey into other aisles to decide on something else. It is her choice. She shakes her head and says in her best whiny voice ever “But this is what I want!” Explanation of what mommy will spend ensues again. She is not buying what I am selling. Offer again to go to other aisles–still no go. Finally Mommy resorts to a tried and true method. “You have 1 minute to decide what you want or you get nothing.” And so we stood, toe-to-toe, mano-e-mano, eye-to-eye, little person-to big person. She called my bluff and Mommy now has to follow through on what she said. “1 minute up, did you decide? No, ok. Let’s go get the food.”
Screaming, Crying, Stomping, Wailing. I have never heard such sounds come from my child. You would think I removed a limb without anesthetic the way she was carrying on. We begin walking. Jack is happy, he has his toy. Becca is screaming, crying, pleading, and chanting “I will choose, I will choose” as she follows behind me through Target. Up and down the food aisles we go, picking up the groceries needed for the week. Bread-check, milk-check, screaming child-still here, cereal-check, juice-check, fruit snacks-yup got those too. Still she follows screaming, crying, wailing, pleading.
I start to get looks. You know the ones–Did she beat that child? Is she stealing her? Good god lady, give her what she wants. We keep walking, only now I am proclaiming the situation to all who will hear me in the guise of talking to Becca. “Becca, I told you to choose a toy. I’m sorry that you couldn’t decide but we have to do what mommy says.” “How many chances do you get?” And my personal favorite– “We never get what we want when we whine.” She continues to scream, cry, stomp, wail, plead. And then it happens. One kind soul. One wonderful grandmother type woman who offers me a smile, a pat on the back, and politely whispers “your doing great, just keep going.” I don’t know where she came from but I am grateful that she understood and spoke out in my time of need. I continue to reinforce the message to my darling sweetheart of a demon child through her screams, cries, stomps, and wails.
As we make our way to the checkout line, I could hear the sighs of relief from everyone around me. “Thank god the crazy lady who won’t give her child a toy is leaving. Now it will be quiet here once again.” We checkout and leave. We leave the toy behind. We leave the happy, fantastic “reward for doing so well all weekend” behind. We leave the demon child behind. She gets in the car subdued, but with a new awareness that mom will follow through, no matter the temper tantrum thrown. Lesson learned, the hard way.