It was just supposed to be a quick trip to Target for baby wipes. And, you know, all the other things you end up buying at Target when you're there, but I SWEAR, I was just going to dash in and dash out. As well as you can dash with two toddlers in tow.
My husband's on a business trip this whole week and Monday morning I set the dial on my brain to Laid Back Who Cares If You Are Wearing Pajamas And Have Peanut Butter In Your Hair At Four In The Afternoon Mom. I wanted to be easy on my kids and easy on myself. So when Jack wanted to pop into the Target Dollar Section I was all, "Fine! Super! Let's BUY STUFF!" Really, Internet! The whole PLAN was to buy my kids a cheap, stupid, useless something or other. How could this possibly fail?!
Jack, of course, wanted everything. The pet clothes. The stamps. The socks. The stickers. Those weird bendable flower things. I picked out a plastic toy watering can for Molly and right next to those were a bunch of sandbox toys: shovels, rakes, that kind of thing. Since we've been playing in our sandbox nearly every afternoon, I picked one out and showed it to Jack. "Look Jack!" I said excitedly, in my I'm Such A Great Mom For Buying You A Present For No Reason! voice. "What about a SHOVEL?"
Jack, however, was holding a whisk. A WHISK. And not even a good whisk. The metal loops were all bent out of shape and sad looking. Jack said, "I want this."
I said, "Oh no, Jack. You want a SHOVEL." Because seriously? When does this kid NOT want a shovel?
But no. Jack said, "NO, Mommy, I wan THIS." And held up his pathetic little WHISK.
And this is where I went totally wrong, Internet, I TOTALLY FLUNKED LAID BACK-NESS. (Shocker!) Instead of being all, "Okay, cool! You keep that whisk!" I tried to convince my un-convince-able son that what he really wanted was a shovel for the sandbox. And the more I tried to convince him the more stubborn he got. And when I put that whisk back on the shelf and tried to hand him the shovel instead, that's when the wailing started. You know the kind of wailing I mean: the Oh My Goodness Is That Woman Beating Her Child?! wailing.
"JACK," I hissed. "If you don't stop that RIGHT THIS INSTANT we are going HOME."
He only wailed louder. OF COURSE.
Now, I've been reading plenty of blog posts on discipline lately, and bemoaning my inconsistency and lack of disciplinary intestinal fortitude to anyone who will listen. This wasn't one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, no! It was an OPPORTUNITY! I straightened my shoulders, looked those kids in the eye and announced, "FINE THEN. We're going HOME."
Oooh, Internet, I was so proud of myself. I was calm! Cool! Collected! I followed through on a threat! I was meaning what I said! Even better, I was not flying off the handle of my tightly gripped Target shopping cart. I methodically strapped them into the car, drove home to the tune of many many tears and hauled Jack up the stairs to his bedroom since he wouldn't go of his own accord. I firmly explained why he was sentenced to Crib Time Out and left. It wasn't until I was downstairs wondering where Molly disappeared to (the bathroom, to unravel the toilet paper) that I realized I was so furious I was shaking.
Discipline - and how you fail at applying it - is such a hard thing to talk about. For me, anyway. Jack is one of the most stubborn and obstinate kids I know - my dad calls it "bloody minded", which I think is extremely apt. We have ninety-seven arguments a day and I screw up about ninety-six of them. It's clear that my first response to kids who act up - the aforementioned flying off the handle - doesn't really work with Jack, and neither does my husband's patient and rational reasoning approach. Right now we're trying to sidestep both of those ingrained responses and just stick him in Solitary Confinement till we feel like letting him out. No negotiating, no yelling, no empty threats. Just calm and consistent. I seriously doubt my capability to do this.
But today? I ROCKED IT. I am so pleased with how I handled things today. And that's not to say Jack was an apologetic and conciliatory angel for the rest of the day, but he followed directions and generally obeyed and didn't go around acting selectively deaf - improvement! Perhaps there is hope for me yet.