Being a Parent…Even In a Store

Yesterday was a great day. It really was. We found more Christmas decorations, I finalized my shopping list, and we all left on time to head to Rosemary’s doctor appointment. The whole thing was fun. Except for the shots. But I digress.

The point of this post is to go over what happened in the late afternoon, while shopping. The boys understood that they had to be good, or else they wouldn’t get the special treat I had in store for them when we got home, which they would get during the great Tree Decoration. Unfortunately, barely a quarter of the way through my list, my second son got tired AND hungry at the same time, and decided to run wild. He’s normally a fantastic child: obedient, sweet, loving. But this was anything but.

Now don’t hear me wrong, he wasn’t a monster, he just QUIT LISTENING. He pulled things off of shelves (which meant I spent more time telling him to put things back than I did checking things off of my list), climbed out of the cart (he has no fear of falling), and bawled every time I told him “No.” He opened a box of crackers and was ready to open the bag within the box when I caught him. Thankfully we were getting crackers anyway, and it was a kind I like. That went into the cart. The last straw, and the end of the shopping trip, was when I went down the chocolate aisle to get a couple small treats for stockings. I was going to get a dark chocolate orange to put in the boys’ stocking, when my son saw the gold-wrapped, hollow chocolate bears. I took the one he had grabbed and put it back on the shelf, only to have him snatch another one. This snatching race went on for only about ten seconds, during which I rescued about four bears, but in his disobedience he then knocked one down and I heard it shatter within its gold wrappings.

There went my money for chocolate stocking stuffers. And there ended the shopping trip.

I explained to him that the treats he had been looking forward to in his stocking would no longer happen, because of his disobedience. He would have to make do with some broken pieces of chocolate, which would be shared with his older brother, who was NOT happy with him.

The cashier was sweet and dear, and tried to convince me that I really didn’t want a broken chocolate bear, that they wouldn’t hold me responsible for the broken treat and make me buy it. And I didn’t explain to her, although I should have (nicely of course) that I wasn’t just holding to the “You break it, You buy it” rule (though I do follow that, and my kids are quickly learning it too).

I was parenting.

I don’t believe in laughing off bad behavior for the sake of the parent. No matter how embarrassing it is to have your child act poorly in public, no matter what they have done, don’t laugh it off in front of people and then deal with it secretly at home. Don’t make a public deal of it, either. Simply deal with it.

I was teaching my son the rule of Consequences. His behavior and loss of temper had lost him stocking treats and earned him instead a broken bear. If he had sat in the cart, as he had been told, and patiently let me do the Christmas shopping, he would not have gotten in the trouble he did (per his behavior during the entire trip, not just in the candy aisle, Sackett Man took him in hand when we got home) and he would have had some wonderful surprises waiting for him.

Now I know he’s little. So I didn’t go into this long-winded and adult-oriented explanation to him. For him it was more like: “You DON’T disobey. When I say stay in the cart, you stay in the cart. When we’re in a store, you DON’T take things off of shelves, and you DON’T open things in the store. Ever. Now you broke something. That was naughty!”

He got the message.

We ended the day on a good note. We put up the gold garland on the tree and wrapped it all in Christmas lights, and then our two boys, with chocolate on their faces, ran around and turned off lights and then stood, mouths gaping and eyes wide with wonder, at the magically glowing lights. They stretched out their arms wide, and Roman said “It’s beautiful!” and James said “Wow! It beafuful!” and then they readied for bed and heard a story about Christmas Reindeer.

And they went to bed with smiles on their faces and the glow of the Christmas lights in their eyes.

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