There is a theory I came up with recently that, so far, seems to be true. It's one I arrived at after talking to my sister earlier this week when she tried to give away her oldest son to me. Then I solidified my thinking when we had an oh so fun trip to Target a few days ago. The theory is this:
The kids you see screaming and crying at the grocery store, Target, the mall, etc. THEIR parents are the ones doing it right.
Now, I'm sure most of you are continuing to read this to try and figure out how the hell I arrived at this ridiculous conclusion. Well, let me tell you by giving you the full stories.
Monday morning my sister, Beth, called to ask if I wanted a fourth child. "Didn't I want a boy?" was her question. Nope! All good! Especially since if she was trying to give him away, it wasn't because he was on his way to winning a Nobel Peace Prize. No, in fact, Zach had been quite the pain in the ass when she had taken all three of the kids shopping at the farmer's market. I don't remember exactly what he did to get himself into trouble, but he was misbehaving the entire trip. My sister had bribed all of the kids at the beginning of shopping (who doesn't), promising honey sticks at the end if they were good. He was not. So, guess what? No honey stick. He then proceeded to have a 5 1/2 year old sized meltdown right there in the market, while she was checking out. He screamed and cried for a "HOOOONNNEEYY STIICCKK!!" But no dice. She stuck to it. Although, my sister really wanted to give in and stop every eye in the place from giving her the evil you're a terrible mother glare. Instead she ignored him, paid for her food and left, with a very angry Zach in tow. She did the right thing. If she would have given in, he would have known that all he had to do in the future was throw a tantrum and get what he wanted. Especially if they were out in public. This is when my theory was born.
Then, just for fun, I decided to prove it myself on a midweek trip to Target. I took all three girls, because it's still summer and I have to. We went to get back to school (yay school!) stuff for everyone-new lunch boxes, backpacks, folders, etc. The trip started okay. Then. Then Lana spotted it. Hello Kitty make-up. She wanted it, she NEEDED it! I said no, scooped her up and walked away from Hello Kitty and her make-up, while Lana screamed and cried.
We walked to the back to school area and I encouraged her to pick out a new lunchbox, but no. She "wanted something cute!"
"There are cute lunchboxes here," I told her, picking some out to show her.
"Noooo! I wan somting else!" She insisted.
She and Sonya needed new shoes, so I told her we would look for some cute shoes. That would be good, right?
"Cute shoes and somting else," was her response.
Fine, whatever. I left it there for the time being, because I had more shopping to do and wasn't ready to tell her she wasn't getting "somting else". We found her and Sonya some new shoes. Then did the rest of our shopping. Every few minutes she would tell me she still wanted "another cute thing." I didn't really respond to her. It wasn't until we headed to the front of the store and stood in line that she realized she wasn't getting "anyting else." That's when it started. Hurricane Lana blew into line 17 at Target. She started crying and screaming and stomping around.
"I want somting cuuuuuttee!!!" She yelled, thrashing her body about against the impulse buys.
I felt the stares and heard the "terrible mother" thoughts from people, but I did not waiver. She certainly wasn't getting anything with the way she acting now, never mind how she was behaving earlier in the trip. Of course there was a small part of me that wanted to give in, but having been through this more than once, with each of them, I was used to it. That is when I felt my theory was right. I was being a good mother, by not giving in to the demands of a four year old. Sure she was making a lot of noise and acting like a small maniac, but what were my choices? Give her what she wanted and reward the yelling and screaming, or ignore her and wait until we got to the car where I would give her an earful, and try to restrain myself from leaving her in the parking lot. Mad Mommy got in the van and yelled at her half the way home. Didn't help much, since she screamed the whole way home herself.
I managed to calm myself and her down when we got into the house. Then I reminded her of why she didn't get what she wanted. I told her she was a good girl, who was having bad behavior and bad behavior doesn't get you "cute things". Only really good behavior does that, and sometimes not even then. I mean if I got my kids something every time they asked for it, we would have to rent out a couple of storage units.
She understood. She must have been tired from the tantrum, because she asked to go take a nap. Sure, fine with me! Then she slept for two hours. Something she doesn't do in the middle of the day anymore. I think the summer fun is getting to everyone.
Anyway, the next time you are out and come across that screaming child, think twice about judging the parent harshly. Chances are they are sticking to their guns and not giving in to the tiny tyrant demands. Instead congratulate them for a job well done. It will balance out the nasty stares they're getting from everyone else around them.