That's an odd statement - Don't most parents believe in their children?
No. In fact, most parents support the thought that their children can't understand or behave. Most parents trust the latest New York Times best seller parenting book or author before they trust their own child. Most parents believe in any psychiatric nonsense that will let them off the hook while proclaiming that their child is wonderful. Most parents believe that it's possible for a Daycare to give their child more guidance and a better life than they would have at home with Mom. Most parents believe that taking the easy way out is better than training their child.
I remember when Amie was about three and we faced a very difficult situation together. That's been almost 27 years ago, but it was an unforgettable day. I've always felt that it was important to teach my children to be self-controlled.
I don't remember why Jamie (they are twins) wasn't with me, but I was grocery shopping with Amie. Most grocery stores lined their checkout aisles with "kid" approved toys and candy. I was waiting in one of those lines and I had turned to look at a magazine. I picked it up and glanced at a few pages. We were too poor at that time for me to buy the magazine. Before I was too interested, I returned it to the rack.
In the mean time, Amie was close enough to pick up one of those cheap cardboard and plastic toys for $1.98. It wouldn't have lasted the trip to the car much less the trip home. I took it from her and replaced it. "No sweetie, not today." She began the assault.
"Please, mommy. I want it."
"No, Amie. Not this time."
"Please, please, please?"
"No darling, not this time."
"Why?" (You know how I feel about saying "because I say so." I had to give her an explanation.)
I leaned closer to her face. "Amie, mommy doesn't have the money for a toy that is going to break before we get it to the car. Perhaps next time I will have extra money and we can look for something that won't break."
"I won't let it break. Please, I want the toy." By this time the clerk is waiting for the next item in the basket and listening to every comment.
"Amie, look at me. I said no. We will get a lollipop for you and Jamie, but no toy."
She began to cry. I took her face in both hands and said. "Amie, you know the rule. If you cry for something the answer is no forever. I have given you a reason and we will talk about it more in the car. Stop this so we can get a lollipop."
Amie not only continued to cry - she got louder. The clerk tried to help by offering several lollipops. I politely refused. "I'm sorry, if she's crying she can't have anything." The clerk rolled her eyes and several people behind me began to whisper.
"It's okay Mame. I give these out all the time. She can have it and maybe that will help." The clerk held the lollipop toward Amie. To her shock, I grabbed them from her hand and leaned over the counter.
Between my teeth I politely said, "No thank you Mame. We are doing just fine. Amie will learn this lesson because it will help her when she is older." I returned the lollipops to the clerk's hand, ask her to finish ringing up the groceries, (Amie was still crying very loud) and explained that I would come back in just one minute to fill out the check.
While the clerk finished the groceries, I rolled Amie and the empty buggy to the front window and cupped my hands on her face. I pulled her close so that we were nose to nose. "Amie," I growled. "You will stop this. I have faith in you. I know that you can control yourself. Look around. Everyone is watching you. Do you want them to think you aren't being good? I have told you why we will not be getting the toy. You must trust me. It is a good decision. You can do this. Stop crying now!"
She gulped and whimpered, "I just want it."
I hugged her. "I know darling. There are a lot of things that mommy wants too, but I can't have them. Crying doesn't get anything for us. We have to work hard and make good decisions. Trust me....you will be fine. You can do this. I love you very much." She rubbed her eyes and held on to my arm. I pushed her closer to the line - but not where the buggy should have been. I paid for the groceries and pushed the overloaded buggy closer to Amie. I helped her out of her seat and we both pushed the groceries outside. We left without the toy and without any lollipops. All the way home we talked about what had happened and what her response should have been.
The next week I asked Mom to watch Jamie so Amie and I could return to the store together. We gathered the necessary groceries and headed for the checkout lanes. I purposely chose the one with the coveted $1.98 toy. Lucky for me, the same clerk was there. She rolled her eyes when she saw me coming. I leaned over to Amie and said, "I am so proud of you. You are a big girl and you can control any desire you want to. We have talked a lot about proper behavior in stores and I know that you can do this."
Amie smiled at me and then she saw the toy. I could tell her little mind was busy with thoughts. After a minute or so, she looked up at me. "Mommy, that toy isn't very good is it?"
"No, dear. I don't think it's very good."
"Can I have a lollipop?"
"Do you think she would give me one for Jamie too?"
"Maybe, if you say please."
Amie smiled at the clerk. "Can I please have a lollipop - and one for my brother Jamie?"
She smiled and pinched Amie's nose. "You sure can." She gave Amie two lollipops and then she handed one to me. "All I can say is , Wow and sorry."
Believe in your children.
Teach them that there is nothing too hard for them.
Teach them that temptation is nothing compared to their own will to be their best.
Teach them that proper behavior brings great rewards.
God loves you,