When I was expecting, I had a long list of things I vowed that I was never going to say or do when I became a parent. While I’ve tried my best to stick to the list, desperate times call for desperate measures. For example, the phrase “Because I told you so” used to drive me crazy, especially as an early childhood educator. I remember thinking that when my child asked me why they had to do something, I’d simply take three minutes and give them a valid explanation rather than forcing them into doing things that they don’t want to do. Then, when you actually spend every second of your day with children, you realize that sometimes, the only answer that you have the time or patience for is that simple phrase. Because I told you so.
I was also the expecting mother who said I wasn’t going to use TV and other electronics, like my iPad, to entertain my child. Well, guess what? Sometimes mommy needs to shower or eat a meal, so TV it is. A little Sesame Street never killed anyone.
Biggest on my list of parenting no-no’s was bribery. I believed in the importance of teaching your children how to behave and how to listen without bribing them with rewards like toys or treats. For the most part, I still believe that a child has to learn that they don’t always get their way. Tantrums are inevitable when you say no sometimes, but ultimately your child will learn an important lesson.
That being said, I have realized that the occasional bribe (like the occasional public tantrum) is also inevitable. On Tuesday, I took my 16 month old with me to Hobby Lobby to pick up some supplies for our Father’s Day crafts. If you haven’t been to a Hobby Lobby, it’s like a craft store on steroids. They literally sell everything. It’s like a child’s dream. Tons of interesting (and fragile) things to be touched. Lots of little toys and art supplies. The minute we walked into the store, Grey was trying to climb out of the cart. The store is also the size of warehouse, which made the specific, tiny items I needed like trying to find a needle in a fucking craft store hay stack. It took me about fifteen minutes to track down the only apparent employee they had working that night. As she described the 4000 different products I could use for my crafts, Grey decided to keep himself busy by browsing the items on the shelves. When I looked down, he was wearing a hideous, tan, foam safari hat. Yup. They actually make foam safari hats.
Normally, I try to avoid buying random crap to keep my kid occupied in the store. It’s a waste of money and he needs to learn that he isn’t going to get a toy every time we go out. But, it was getting late. It was dinner time. My husband was out of town. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a major tantrum. So, I bought the damn hat. He loved it so much that I had to pry it out of his hands to pay for it. I don’t actually consider this bribery, per se. It’s more like I was teaching him about good negotiation skills….. I’ll buy this hat if you be quiet and sit in the cart. Done deal.
Turns out, he REALLY loved the hat. He insisted on wearing it at dinner.
And when we got up the next morning, he wore it while doing some squirrel watching with the dog.
If I had known that he was going to love this ridiculous hat so much and was actually going to wear it around and play with it for days, I would have bought several of them. Turns out the occasional bribe doesn’t make me a bad mother after all. One thing I know for sure though, next time I go to Hobby Lobby, I’ll leave the kid at home.