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Monday, January 3, 2011

Parenting: Sometimes It Ain't Pretty!

After what seems like a month of party food, big meals, cookies and cake and candy between each meal, I finally needed to get to the grocery store and buy some "real" food.

I loaded up this morning, headed to the Y for my class with the little boys and the day was off to a good start despite the fact I got to class late.  (Can someone please tell me how to get my husband to factor in travel time when he is considering my schedule.  I think the man thinks I can teleport because when I tell him class is at 9:30, he assumes I am leaving at 9:30!)

Class was great, as always, I got to shower semi-alone (why is it I consider showering in a room with up to 8 strangers "alone"?) and got the kids out of play place and to the car.  Our first stop was Target because I wanted to browse the Christmas clearance and get Pull-Ups that were on sale.  We managed to avoid a crisis in the kids clothing department when Will suddenly shouts, "I has to pee!  NOW!"  We ran to the family bathroom and crisis was averted.  We returned to the clothing, searched through the sales - nothing I wanted was under $10 - the number one criteria for me when purchasing the clearance rack - and headed to Christmas clearance.  We got to the measly clearance section and first thing I see is a blue tinsel Christmas Tree.  At 75% off, it was a pretty good buy so I asked Will if he wanted it for his room.  He loved the idea and we put it in his cart.  A few steps down the aisle, I found the tubes of non-breakable ornaments I like for our trees.  There were a lot of them so I really had to do some sorting to find the tubes with the colors I wanted.  There were also bins with assorted ornaments in them and I spent some time sorting through them trying to find specific types of ornaments for the kids.  I started a collection for each of them - Walker is Santa's, Maggie:  Angels, Will:  Reindeer and Whitaker:  Snowmen.  I looked for ornaments for each of them to add to their collection for next year.

During this searching and sorting, Will, who at the time was just being great -

started playing that 3 year old boredom game of telling me he didn't want the tree anymore.  So I put it back on the shelf.  Three steps down the aisle, he wanted the tree again. I warned him that I wasn't going to play that game and if he did it again, it was going on the shelf and staying there.  Well, true to three year old spirit, he did it again and I put it back on the shelf and zoomed out of the clearance aisle.  

All through electronics he cried, "I want my Christmas tree!"  (Repeat continuously!)

At the baby aisle, I stopped for the Pull-Ups and the baby wipes.  At this point, we're in a rip-roaring, screaming, spitting, veins popping, flipping and flailing-throwing himself out of the cart fit. (Insert image of Linda Blair in The Exorcist here!)

 A guy I had seen walking around the store with a clip-board (I'm assuming he was a survey taker - I've seen them in the Target stores before) says to me, "Don't give in, Mom.  If you give in now, he'll know all he has to do is do this again and he'll get his way."  

Now, I know he meant well.  But for some reason it really irritated me.  As if I needed parenting advice at that moment.  I really want to know what made him think I was going to give in?  As out of control I felt, I really wasn't.  I was calmly using my phone to see if the Pull-Up sale was really a bargain compared to the UP and UP brand (it was) and I was calmly (and repeatedly) telling Will, "I'm sorry, but I warned you what would happen if you said you didn't want the tree, so this is the consequence of your choice."  

I put the Pull-Ups and wipes in the cart, and headed for the check-out.  You should have seen the people staring at me.  As I walked past the aisles, people looked at me and then quickly averted their eyes - as if it was shameful to look at me.  Did I mention that at this point, Will had decided to throw himself out of the cart and turn his legs to jelly.  He wouldn't not stand on his legs for anything, so I had hiked him under my armpit sideways, squeezed him to my side, and continued to push the cart to the check-out.  Two ladies in the pharmacy aisles looked like I was actively beating him.  (Judging by his wails, I'd bet people thought he was being beat) and the guy in the mens department stared at me as if I was walking naked through the store.

Guess what folks?  This is what parenting looks like.  It's nasty, it's ugly and sometimes it's dirty!  It's sticking to your guns, biting the bullet and being a little embarrassed.  Sure, it would have been much easier to abandon my cart, pick everyone up and walk out the door.  But it was my job to teach Will a lesson.  Did he get the lesson?  I don't really know. But it's not always about the individual lesson.  I know that it may take a dozen more fits in the store before my Will finally realizes what I say is truth and I will always do what I say.  He will test me to the limits each and every day.  And it's my job to stand my ground, bite the bullet and be a little embarrassed.  Because in the end, I'm not just parenting - I'm raising a child to be an adult.  I'd much rather deal with a tantruming three year old, than a tantruming 15 year old!  Society is already full of those beasts.

So, the next time you are in public, and you see a woman walking through the aisles, dealing with a tantruming child, don't look at her like she's crazy.  Give her a sympathetic look and tell her "Thank You!" 

In the meantime, this story gets saved for the baby book.  And someday I'll dig this story out to show him when he calls me to tell me about the rip-roaring, screaming, spitting, veins popping, flipping and flailing-throwing himself out of the cart fit he just experienced with his child.