Tuesday, March 23, 2010
In Their Shoes
Twice a year, I sell Dylan's old clothes and toys in a huge consignment sale. It's a great way to de-clutter the house, make a little extra cash, and score some great deals.
Each time I go to the sale, it is like watching a "What Not To Wear" episode, if it were called, "How Not To Parent". This time was no exception.
When I drop off my sale items, I get a babysitter. When I go to shop at the sale, I get a babysitter. I have been shopping with my active three year old son. I know taking him along would result in chaos. I know his limits, and I know mine. I know that shopping for long periods of time + children = STRESS! Apparently, not everyone has received the memo.
When I first began to shop, I witnessed a mother yank her son's arm, while leaning down inches from his face, to snarl "Shut up! You're really getting on my nerves, do you know that?"
Nearby, a mother was admonishing her daughter, "Do NOT ask me for a toy! I am NOT buying you any toys!" I can't tell you how many parents I heard saying they were not buying their kids a toy, a book, a CD, a DVD. Apparently, they were just there to buy them clothes. They wanted them to sit sweetly in their strollers, or stand silently nearby, while they perused rack after rack of clothing, for hours. Hmmm... strangely the children were not cooperating. I can't imagine why.
I was over looking at the books, when an adorable little guy, maybe 2 or 3, wandered over next to me. He saw that someone had spilled some cards on the floor. He looked up at me, and said, "I keen(clean) dees (these) up!" "Oh, that's nice of you!", I answered, while he got to work.
I cringed as I heard a high pitched shriek. "Michael! Did you take those out? I told you not to touch anything? Didn't I?" Poor Michael just looked up at me, and sighed. I turned to explain that he was actually cleaning them up, but he was already being led away to look at more clothes.
I made my way over to the clothes, where my ears were assaulted by another shrieker. "JOR-DAN!! Get over here! JOR-DAN! Did you hear me?!" Jordan looked to be about 2 years old, and he was a very curious little guy. He wanted to see what was "Ova here! Ova dere! Ova here!" Every five minutes or so (at first), I would jump when his mother would scream "JOR-DAN!!" After a while, it got to the point where her voice was like the sound of chalk on a chalkboard. I was envisioning myself strangling her. A while after that, though, I noticed something. I started to successfully tune her voice out. Jordan had obviously learned the skill himself.
Why am I telling you this story? Because while I was standing there, I envisioned Jim taking me to Home Depot (his favorite store and NOT mine). I pictured him telling me "We're going to be here a few hours, looking at this wood. I want you to stand here with me and look at this wood. Don't wander away. Don't go look at something that interests you. I'm not buying you anything. Oh, and don't talk, complain, whine, or cry about it, either". I can tell you that I would not be cooperative.
Sometimes we have such unrealistic expectations for our children. Sometimes we seem to forget that they are people, with wants and needs very similar to ours, (and even shorter attention spans). Sometimes we scream, and yell, and nag so much that they simply tune out the shrill sound of our voices. Sometimes we need to put ourselves in their shoes.