It’s a Monday. Hot as hell and I am sitting outside on a pool chair watching my son as he cries in front of the brush used to scrub the sides of the pool. Arms extended towards the cleaning apparatus, red-faced, and screaming. Apparently going into the pool is not enough. Fast forward a day and we are now sitting on the garage floor. My son is staring me in the eye as he balls hysterically over the fact that mommy will not let him walk into the road. At this moment I begin wondering why my kid is like this and more importantly am I the one making him this way? Have I given in too much? Does he think he can have whatever he wants because maybe just maybe I give him whatever he wants? How badly am I screwing up my child? Or is it (fingers crossed) just the way he is and has very little to do with me?
As a former teacher I pride myself on being consistent. On being firm. On not allowing my son to “take over”, but then there are those moments of weakness. Take last week for example. We were grocery shopping. My son is strapped into the cart when ten minutes into our trip it is spotted: another shopping cart with a red car attached to the bottom. Instantaneous attacks of excitement begin while my banshee son attempts to use every ounce of his strength to get out of his buckled seat, and maneuver his way to the red car. The options begin rolling through my head: let him scream, avert attention, get a snack, or go and find one of these devil cars. Not being in a rush I decide to be a complete pushover and get the dumb car.
As we walk to the front of the store I hear my mother yelling at me in my head “You give in too much! That’s why he’s the way he is.” “Whatever mom, I can handle this,” I imagine snapping back at her, and ask the clerk for a cart with a car. “Sorry ma’am we only have four in the store and they’re all taken,” the clerk tells me. I stare blankly at him determining my next move, when in the corner of my eye I spot it. A mini grocery cart!!!! “He is going to love the hell out of this!” I think to myself. Smiling with delight I take him out of his now tightly strapped belt, and we carry on. Me pushing mine, him pushing his. That is until we encounter the red car from hell again.
This is when the crazy starts to happen. My guy takes off. Running like Forest Gump himself away from me and towards the car. “Stay firm,” I tell myself. “He will come back to me once he realizes how far he has gotten,” I believe. Suddenly I notice I can not see him. Abandoning ship I leave my cart (wallet and all) and run after my little prison breaker. We make contact. I grab him, catch my breath, and start to tell him how disappointed I am. I then begin to let him know his options (he’s one) while he is screaming in my ear. “You can push your cart, or get in my cart,” I whisper to him. His back is now arching as he endeavors to weasel his way out while screaming even louder. Options repeated again, military style. No change in response. This is the moment I now too want to begin crying. For we have both realized we are not going to get what we want, and this trip is just going to plain suck. I force the whirling dervish into my cart and continue with my shopping as the entire store is now blessed with echoing screaming, and I with stares. Defeated. I would not call this a win (especially since mom was right.)
Days like this seem to be happening A LOT. Many days we are even lucky enough to have several breakdowns (him or I, depending on the event.) I love this little kid so much but really do wonder how badly I am messing up the little nugget. Is it simply the way that God made him? Or is it me who is bringing out the “best” in him? What is the right way to discipline a one year old? How do you maintain control while still allowing a baby to be a baby? I probably won’t know until we are both in therapy discussing which came first, the chicken or the egg, but until then I will no longer be grocery shopping at Whole Foods.