I was at the Asian store we frequent the other day and, as anyone with kids can well imagine, the girls saw something they wanted. The cool thing about our kids is that they get jazzed about seaweed and such at stores like that, but this time it was essentially a toy. There were packs of two plastic piggy banks. Each pack had a pink and an orange, or a green and an orange and the girls both wanted pink. Naturally, due to being brainwashed by mass marketing, they both wanted pink. Ada may have wanted orange, but Azita wanted pink.
At first I tried to help them compromise, about the colors, but I wouldn’t bend on getting two packs– I do NOT need four piggy banks forgotten about after the day is done, sitting in the corner of their room. But Azita did have a piggy bank she had received for her birthday that Ada had broken, and it seemed fair to let her replace that now as it has been months since I told her we’d keep an eye out for a new one. I’m generally against cheap plastic junk, but Ada won’t be able to break this one.
Azita was hugging my leg and crying a bit because Ada wanted the pink one. I decided, and I could have not done this either on a certain principle, to ask the owner if I could put two pink ones in a pack. He’s known Azita since she was pint-sized, and I felt like this was an acceptable time to ask this under this circumstance. He told me okay, but he wanted to talk to her about it. He told her she was the big sister, and needs to look out for her baby sister always, and asked her why she wasn’t willing to share the pink and orange one.
Azita didn’t answer him really. I told him that she impresses me a good bit of the time, and he agreed, that she is impresses him too. That was nice of him to say.
So while Azita had been crying on me, he looked at me and said “Hey, this is no big thing okay? Don’t worry about it.”
I immediately caught his meaning. All I answered was, “I in general try to understand what she’s feeling,” but we understood each other.
I’m willing to bet he’s seen more than enough young children get yelled at or worse for wanting something at his store. I admit it’s frustrating when your child makes a huge deal out of something that seems minor to you. But if I try to look at her point of view– Ada broke her piggy bank. She found a cheap one months later I was willing to buy. Ada then saw that one and, being 2, insists that she get to keep in the pink one and hold it. Azita knows that Ada often gets her way, and that we often expect Azita to be the more mature one, sacrificing her needs for her sister’s.
This was a time I felt it was reasonable to make sure Azita knows I put her first sometimes too. True, it’s a plastic piece of junk, but I also don’t buy her something each time she asks.
This could have gone the total other way, if I had been in a different mood, or if the owner acted differently. I have my ideals of how children should be shown how to stay calm, not be materialistic, etc. etc. I have my ideals of how they should be treated and taught to handle their emotions and not yelled at for them.
And when their behavior really gets to me and I don’t handle it right, it is often because of one or two things:
1 – I am irritable/tired/headachy and etc. myself
2 – I am in public
How often to parents react a certain way because others are around and they are second guessing their reactions, feeling the judgments of others? This man actually does a service to kids by trying to help a parent feel relaxed about their child’s display of emotions.
Something similar happened at the Farmer’s Market once, when Azita was just three. She was getting upset about something– wanting to buy something or leaving– I can’t remember. And I sat down at her level and looked in her eyes and tried harder to explain why I was making the decision I was. A farmer told me “You are a good mother.” He didn’t say anything else. But it was that same feeling— that he was expecting me to start snapping at her and throw her in the car. And yes, I’ve done that too.
On occasion (thankfully not too often) Azita will really get upset about something, inconsolably upset, and I have no choice but to simply remove her from the situation. What’s funny is when she is at her worst, sometimes I’m at my best and *am* able to stay calm and leave with her… but not always.
I have felt myself recently losing my temper with her, or at least getting close, at a Baha’i Virtues Class I take the girls to. I will have to make a post on some of the quotes that guide the Baha’i viewpoint on parenting and educating children, and you’d see that that is one very safe place where I can let Azita be who she is and try to help her with whatever it is that I’m not happy about or she’s not happy about.
So I think back—what makes me uptight in that situation? Is it because it’s a situation in which I feel insecure and wonder about the judgments of the other parents? It shouldn’t be, but that’s a very likely possibility. Being aware of why you handle something with your children the way you do is important, I think.
Public parenting. Do what you feel is right. Don’t worry about what someone else might be thinking. Are their feelings more important than your child’s? I’ve felt the stares on my back when Azita is going nuts over something that seems unimportant. It’s more important to me that she remembers I tried to honor her feelings, that she knows her feelings are okay, and that she doesn’t bottle them up in the future, when I need to know how she feels to help her through the next stage of development.