At the grocery store. The two year old is walking and the four year old wants to ride in the cart.
They want to buy many different things. “That is not on the list.” I say. “What IS on the list?” my four year old asks. I let him know what is on the list, and ask him to help me find those things.
He still wants to talk about all the things that excite him, that make him wonder. My two year old still wants to look at everything, but holds my hand as we walk.
We take it slow. I answer questions. “Can we buy this?” “Not this time, no.” “What is this?” “It is a rubber spatula.” “Why is it rubber?” “So that it can scrape the sides of things.” “Why?” “Sometimes when you stir something up everything sticks to the sides. Like when we make banana bread. This lets you scrape every last bit of it out.” “Can we get one?” “I think we have one already, I just always forget to use it!”
In the checkout aisle my daughter wants candy. “I WANT CANDY!” she shrieks. “You want candy.” I say. “Do you remember all your Halloween candy?” I ask. She says she does. “We have ALL that candy at home, right?” She smiles and says “yesssssssss we doooooo.” She still does not want to be carried, so she’s down on the ground near the candy, but she’s leaving it alone.
My four year old son wants to swipe my debit card. He asks to hold it. I tell him that he can, but that if it gets dropped I’m not going to be very happy so please hold tight. And he does. Then he pauses to show me how he wants to swipe the card. I show him that it has to be held a different way. He swipes too slowly. I say “Try again, quicker this time.” and show him with my hand. He does it quickly and it goes through. He wants to do it again. I say “Nope, it worked. We cannot do it again.” and open my wallet so that he can put it away.
My daughter has her arms wrapped around my leg and she is asking for one of the strawberry yogurts that we just bought. “We will eat those at home.” I let her know. And she asks me again. I repeat myself again, and she decides that she wants to be carried after all. I sweep her up as the clerk hands me my receipt. I give it to my son to carry and we all push the cart outside.
I remember before I had kids. I saw a lot of children in grocery stores. I saw a lot of parents getting really upset when their kids threw tantrums. I saw some spankings. I saw some well behaved kids. I saw some out of control kids. I saw so many memes on Facebook that said that if we whooped our kids butts as a nation, all the rudeness and problems would stop. I saw many of these referencing the tantrums that a “spoiled” child would throw in a store and how a good whoopin’ or “not tolerating the manipulation” would make those tantrums disappear.
And I remember it somehow… Making sense.
It somehow made sense that if your children feared you that they would never misbehave. Even though I saw plenty of spanked children misbehaving when I was a child, myself.
My kids talk a lot in the store. They ask a lot of questions. Sometimes they get upset. Mostly, though, they follow me through the store and stick by my side. They help me find things and they help me load the conveyor belt.
Some kids have a harder time.
But… when these kids of mine throw a tantrum? I give them empathy and not a time out. I don’t ignore them. And I don’t swat them to get them to stay silent. I give them hugs and tell them that I understand, and that we all want things sometime that we can’t have right away.
And they accept that.
Most of our trips are the way they were today.
No whoopin’. Just patience and empathy.
The spanking culture misrepresents a lot of things. It misinterprets them. It says that the only way to set a child onto the right path is to spank them off of the wrong one. I do not choose to believe that is true.