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Friday, August 10, 2012

Temper, Temper

I took my mother and son out on a shopping jaunt yesterday. Nothing dramatic, just a quick trip through the grocery store for some staple items. However, we made the mistake of taking my son out directly after his nap.

About five minutes into the store, my son started to fuss, and the fussing progressed into a full-blown, teary tantrum. Ordinarily, I would have my husband take my son to calm down while I finished, but with my mother in tow, and just a few things on my list, I pushed on despite the theatrics. My son wanted to run around the store, and, as any parent knows who has been in a busy store, particularly one on re-stock day, it wasn't about to happen.

As I've mentioned before, my mom and I differ in parenting styles. My mother is much more indulgent. Case in point: I told her to watch my son for a second while I grabbed a piece of ham from the meat section, and I turn around to see her taking my son over to a rack of toys. I motored my way over as fast as I could before she could even touch one of those toys.

"If you give him the toy now, he'll think that throwing a tantrum will get him rewarded in some way," I calmly stated, turning the cart, and my wailing child, back toward the household items. I wanted to shout, "Oh my God, you flipping saboteur! Have you lost what little mind you have left in the graying meat-case you call a head?", but I didn't. Probably a good thing. Probably.

"I told him that he could have it," she replied. I walked on, but re-stated that we needed to send my son the message that throwing a tantrum doesn't yield whatever he wants. After he settled down, we gave him his afternoon snack, and that seemed to restore his sense of balance.

We were on our way out of the store when there was a piercing shriek from outside. A woman, somewhere between my age and my mother's, was struggling with a girl who was probably about six or seven. It turned out that the girl wanted to ride in a cab on the way home, and her mother said "no". The girl was shrieking as loud as she could, not because she was in any danger, but because she wanted to attract attention. Every time she let loose, she would glance around to see who was staring. It was a power play with even odds on who would win.

I felt for the woman. I think most people did, really. She kept saying she didn't have the money for the cab (something I can well understand given the rising cost of food), and her daughter kept screaming louder with every refusal. She was still screaming by the time we had finished loading the car and were getting in to leave.

I looked over the car to my mother and, pointing to the shenanigans, said, "And that's what happens when a child gets their way from a screaming match."

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