Saturday, January 10, 2009

That damn special treat

Day 10.

I screwed up today. And so,

I'm grateful when I see my parenting mistakes clearly and am able to learn from them.

There was a massive clearance sale at the city Once Upon a Child (franchise resale children's store) today. So even though we were in the middle of one of the snowiest days of the winter so far (and that's a bold statement given our December/January), I hit the road with Dylan in tow while Noah and Jason were at soccer. I figured it would be easy just bringing her along - shopping with only one kid? Piece of cake.

It was absolute chaos at the store. The already crowded, narrow aisles were jam-packed with momzillas scrounging for the best deals. It was a grab bag sale, so you could stuff as much as you could in these little pink bags for $10/bag. It ended up being a good deal - I saved $139.60 off of the already resale prices. Pretty awesome, huh? But really, people were ridiculous. At one point, someone told Dylan to move (and she was standing RIGHT next to me while I was browsing racks) so the lady could get in to see better. I was pissed, and no need to say that mama bear came out in full force. Seriously, it's clothes. Let's not loose our self-dignity over this, people. Don't push away a three year old from her mom to get your spot.

Anyhow, that's not at all the point of my post, except for that Dylan was really good through the whole thing. She was so cooperative, just stayed by me, helped me pick out her stuff, and except for the occasional whine for a really ugly shirt that I couldn't bear to put in my bag, she was a trooper. Let's get this straight - I was there for an hour and a half - so it was a long time to just stand there.

So, we were almost done and ready to check out when I told her, "You know what, Dylan, you've been so cooperative with this whole shopping thing, when we're done, let's go get a special treat." The magic two words, SPECIAL TREAT. It was like I told her she could eat jelly beans for breakfast for the rest of her life. She was pumped, but kept her excitement under control.

Until we went to go briefly look at the shoes, and the dolls where right next to the shoes. I got this "genius" idea to ask her if she would like to pick out a (used) doll as her special treat. She got very excited and chose a doll with rollerskates on it (the most scary looking one I might add). So, she put it on our pile and I found some really cool shoes for Noah. But then, things went haywire. She realized that choosing a doll would mean THAT was her special treat, and not a lollipop, or ice cream, or some other sweet food item. Now, I had NEVER said that she was getting a sweet food item, and I really am horrified that she thinks that "special treats" have to be food items - sugared ones at that. I mean, I use the words "special treat" for a lot of things - time with grandma, reading an extra book at bedtime, having a cookie, getting to go try out a soccer class, etc. So, there should not be a direct food correlation. But there is. I don't know how it happened, but to Dylan, special treat = sugary consumption.

So, she freaked. New doll, no sugar. Sugary treat, no doll. She couldn't make up her mind and stood there and drove herself crazy trying to decide. She got all worked up, started freaking out and insisted she got BOTH a doll and other special treat. It delevoped into quite the angry scene. So, I calmly put the doll back, and we paid for our stuff and left. She was beside herself with rage, sadness, and just overall disbelief that she was now getting NO special treat. I'll spare you the details of our ear-piercing ride home. But, it was not pleasant.

Lesson learned is two-fold. First, why did I tell her about the special treat before we were done? I could have just done something special for her after we left. She was already being wonderful, so why did I feel like I had to add that little bit on? I guess it was because I was proud of her, and it wasn't a bribe, it was more of a "Wow, thank you Dylan, you've been so great this morning - I want to do something special for you." But by doing that, I ruined it! It was all my fault.

And second, why did I have to reward her at all? I believe in my kids acting properly and respectfully just because that's who they are, not because they are going to get something in return. So, there goes that.

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