A Parenting Tip For Newbies - Check Who’s Really In Charge
My oldest son was a tiny little toddler, full of spunk. I was still a newbie mom, delighted that my precious son was healthy and thriving. We were enjoying each new day together, lulled into the luscious sense that we were buddies. You know, on-the-same-side.
Parenting Tip 101: when they're cute and happy...beware.
As you are about to find out, it really wasn't my fault at all...I mean, how could I have even KNOWN what he was about to do?
Let me start at the beginning. The beginning of that day, not the beginning of his life. We did our morning thing at home. Breakfast, getting dressed, picking up toys (Round One for the day). I needed to go to the store for a few items so off we went, me with my list and him with his dry diaper.
Life was good. Life was SWEET.
(By the way, let me say now, as a parent that should be your first clue. When things are going well, really, really smoothly, look out. In fact, duck. Something big is coming.)
Anyway, back to my story.
My son and I arrived at the store where I deposited him gently into a waiting shopping cart. He immediately began the process of removing himself from the cart. I began the process of reinserting him into the cart.
I won. We began shopping.
Things actually went swimmingly for awhile. I collected the items I needed while Son #1 interested himself with the big wide world around him. Being a social child, people were one of his favorite toys. He smiled, he giggled, he reached out with his chubby little hand as other shoppers moved in and out of his visual range.
Did I mention life was sweet?
My first mistake was getting complacent. I know, I know, that's a tactical error I would never have committed later on in my parenting career, but I was a newbie, remember? Little son seemed so happy I forgot how quickly the scenario could change. So I let my guard down and I actually...I'm ashamed to admit it...I BROWSED. I slowly and pleasurably went from item to item, savoring my tiny bit of adult time.
Son-boy caught on real fast.
His wide smile drooped, a little. He squirmed, more. His giggles took on a slight whiney quality.
But I was hooked. I was SHOPPING.
We did alright for a bit. But the kid's non-existent patience was wearing thin. His giggles were totally gone now and he was talking to me, plaintively.
"Mommy. Mommy! MOMMMYYYYY!”
I tried to soothe him with one hand without diverting my attention from the racks of clothing I was picking through. In the back of my mind, I tried to gauge how long I had until his cries would become annoying and I would actually have to bless him with my undivided attention.
In reality, my son was way ahead of me.
Since his attempts to get my focus were not working, he upped the ante. Rummaging through his limited vocabulary, he discovered a treasure as immense as any buried in the Valley of the Kings. It was a big word, huge by his budding understanding and he didn't even know what it meant. But he had heard it recently and it had come out of the mouth of an adult so it must be GOOD.
And now was the perfect time to try it out.
My beautiful little son sang out his new word with all the gusto he could muster. Truly, he was nearly shrieking the word, and his clarity was astonishing.
More importantly, he now had my full and complete attention.
I put both my hands on either side of his round little face and shushed him gently.
I got firmer, scrunching my face in my fiercest 'no' expression and shaking my head strongly.
Nada. Zilch response on the positive scale.
So I did what any good parent would do in the same situation. I ditched the cart and contents, grabbed the kid and made for the store exit.
'Die-ree-uh' and I swooped through the door and into the sunlight, which magically transformed him instantly.
"Mommy done?" he asked pleasantly.
"Oh yah," I replied, humbled by his self-control. "Mommy done shopping for the next 18 years."
As I cuddled him into his car seat, I laughed at myself. I had a lot to learn about influencing my son's behavior and he apparently was born knowing how to control mine.
Parenting Tip 102: don't let size fool you.
by Colleen Langenfeld