Apparently today is a crying day. Not for me, for my son. I would like to be on my way to see my niece compete in her first level 7 gymnastics meet. Parenting thwarted these plans though. My son and I were packing to head out the door when he decided he needed a cookie. It’s amazing the simple things that can set a toddler off.
The simple act of telling him, not right now, resulted in an irrational meltdown. A time out and a promising redirect about not throwing fits when we don’t get what we want, and things were looking up. I still had hope we could recover and head out to the gymnastics meet. That was until he asked for a cookie again with the same reaction when the answer at that point had to be, no. Look, I don’t mind if the kid has a cookie, I just wasn’t in a position to give it to him at the moment he requested it the first time. His reaction to getting a cookie at that precise moment is what necessitated my refusal and subsequent refusals. It became a dreaded learning opportunity.
Learning opportunities are exhausting as a parent. It would be easier to give the kid the damn cookie so I could have what I wanted- going to watch my niece compete. Unfortunately, I had to seize this opportunity to teach my son how to be a decent human being and avoid future episodes. Thankfully he decided to start his crying day at home instead of in public where it’s too late to do much about it. As an adult, my dad told me:if I disciplined you at home, I didn’t have to discipline you in public. I guess when you have five children to manage in public you figure out how to teach them to listen. I just have the one, with a second fast approaching.
I’m beginning to see the virtues of disciplining at home where you have home field advantage, rather than having to institute rules and boundaries at the grocery store where you can’t control the environment. I mean, that’s just good gamesmanship, right? Have you ever tried to put a toddler in a time out in the diaper isle at Walmart? If we were at home I would let him scream himself hoarse in his time out while I ignored him. At the store you just know you’re being judged and you really don’t want to waste an hour of shopping by leaving a full cart and taking your child home for a time out (though a time out is not what I would have gotten if my mother or father had to leave a store because I threw a fit). Yes, home field advantage is preferable.
So, here I am writing while there’s a lull in the storm, rather than doing what I intended to be doing. Gray is playing outside, collecting rocks and wild flowers and bringing them to me here on the porch. Little apologies as only toddlers can make. I’ll offer him a cookie randomly if he continues to behave like a rational human being, or at least as rational as can be expected of a two year old. This is my first child, so who knows if I’m doing this parenting thing right. I’m combining my experiences of how I was raised (things I liked and didn’t like), experience working with children, and a lot from what I know from animal training as a keeper of great apes. I’m sure you will hear more about my experiences as a zoo keeper and how they prepared me for parenthood at some point in this blog.
I’ve found that parenting is extremely hard but equally rewarding. In the time it has taken me to write this, my son has returned to a sweet, adorable child. This is what keeps me going. A few rocks and wild flowers picked just for me in between melt downs sustains me and gets me through the next episode in five, four, three, two, one…