So, had that experience that all parents just love to pieces tonight; the dreaded, “carrying your kid out the door kicking and screaming because you didn’t buy them something, ” drama. Oh, I felt it coming. It started with a simple return / exchange I needed to do. As is typically the case, the kids were well informed ahead of time that there would be no purchases made during this particular trip. Seemed easy enough. Get in, get out, get er’ done.
Ah, but the youngest had other plans despite his assurance that he understood there would be no exchange of coin during this transaction. And so, confident we were ready and well prepared, in we went.
Now, we’ve been to the book store a million times. And some times we buy a small book or two and other times we don’t. When we do they have a budget to adhere to and seem to enjoy the browsing almost as much as the buying. When we’re not there to purchase, which I personally think is a good exercise, they understand well in advance that there will be no buying today. But it never fails, one of them typically finds something they HAVE to have and end up throwing a fit over it. Such was the case this evening, although there was a twist. There really wasn’t anything the youngest really WANTED so to speak. What I noticed was, that as we were preparing to leave, he got antsy. It was like he felt he couldn’t leave without experiencing the high of getting something new. I saw him trolling through the Christmas book section, (Sorry, “holiday” section), racing through isles, and just picking random books he may or may not want. As he started to hit panic mode I advised him that it was time to go and started for the door. It was at that moment that he lost it and we hit DEFCON 5.
Oddly enough, for me it was more of a “been there done that” experience. My oldest had on more than one occasion found herself over my shoulder screaming her head off as we walked out of Target. And the middle one still informs me every trip or so that “you’re going to buy me that barbie right now mister!” It was in those early experiences that I learned to ignore the stares, the disapproving eyes, the “who’s in charge” looks from mostly single people who have “no idea” what they’re in for in a few years. I had come to appreciate that a good majority of the onlookers had “been there” themselves and were watching to see how I would handle the ensuing anarchy.
So, with that in mind, pulling from several years of experience, I calmly picked him up and made my way for the door. Much to my amazement, the louder and more frantic his screams of disapproval got, the calmer I became, at one point literally laughing as we made our way passed the registers. My oldest quickly pulled her hood over her head and covered her face with embarrassment, trying desperately to stay just far enough ahead of us to ensure there would be some doubt as to whether or not she was actually associated with us.
There was no yelling on my part, no reaction really other than just making the trip to the car as quick as possible. And then it happened. As I exited the store I passed a 40 something woman who was just entering. She seemed to have that weathered by parenting look about her and as she passed me I caught her assessing the situation as it approached her. It was a, “wonder what the story here is” look. Once she had gathered enough information to pass judgement I got the “yup … been there” glance of approval with a touch of “but still your son’s coming off a bit spoiled” look that reassured me that this too shall pass and we’ll all move on.
And of course … it did. Within five minutes of getting jr strapped in and on the path home, the screaming ceased and the requests for McDonalds began and we were on our way.
I think I’ve learned that around 7 or 8 they start to figure out, with enough encouragement and experiences, that it’s o.k. to leave a store without a new toy or skirt. They’ll live … and so will Target.