Friday, February 05, 2010
Smug parents
Every once in a while I feel we can give ourselves a pat on the back and a "well done." As I tell you this I'm sure some of you will be saying to yourselves, "Well, duh, we've been doing this for a long time." But for us it was the first.

M took Emma by the convenience store to pick up "chicken bones" (fried chicken legs) for her lunch on Wednesday. In the store she saw a little stuffed puppy in a carrier that she wanted. She started in on her Daddy (which usually works when it comes to toys) and he wouldn't buy it for her. So she escalated the crying and dramatics. He stood firm. They walked up main street back to the store with Emma caterwauling the whole way. M was sure he was going to hear about it from folks later. When they got back to the store she was still throwing a fit. She refused to go home with Grandma for lunch and kept up with her hysterics. Then, like a bolt out of the blue, Grandma swatted her behind. A first. Shocked the fury out of her. Of course then Emma's grievance turned to Grandma, but she had too much sense to speak out.

You'd have to see Grandma to understand how shocking this must have been. She's bent over half by scoliosis and getting shorter and more frail by the day. But she has warned Emma in the past that she wasn't above swatting her if she couldn't rein it in. So, kapow! Fortunately, after leaving for a while Grandma came back later in the afternoon and everything was completely cool between Emma and her.

On to Thursday, after Emma gets off the bus she starts in with the whiny, pouty pleas for the puppy at the convenience store. Now seriously, it's so much easier to cave on this stuff than put up with the drama. But easy doesn't build character so the hard way it must be. M brought Emma to my work so I could bring her home later. When she got to me she started cajoling me to take her to the store and buy this puppy. I told her I would speak to Daddy about it.

M has this thing about not wanting to do the wrong thing when something really is important to his kids. He has vivid memories of times in his youth when his parents really didn't understand the enormity of his longing or need, no matter how he pleaded, and it wasn't just about stuff he wanted to buy. With those vivid memories in mind he's keen not to get it wrong with Emma. After some discussion we decided that we'd tell Emma she could get her own money at home that night and come back to town with Daddy to buy it the next day, if she really wanted it.

I was left to explain this deal to her. Of course she wanted it right now with my money paying for it. I told her "no" she must use her own money. "But if I spend my money then I won't have any money!" "Emma, that's how it is with my money, too." Finally, she began to grasp that we were serious about making her wait another day and using her own money.

Since M was shopping last night I had bedtime duty with both of the kids. I let Emma stay up and watch a Scooby movie because I knew school would be cancelled today. Then after I read to her I let her play Leapster. Still, I was a bit surprised when she came downstairs at 10:34 p.m. acting small and pouty. "Mommy, we forgot something." We hadn't found her money yet. So, I got up and went to her room. From her various wallets and purses we assembled $8.00. M had no idea how much the puppy was so I had to guess. Daggone it, if it was more than $8.00 he could make up the difference.

Around 9:40 this morning I called to store to see how it went. They went to the convenience store on the way in and Emma got her puppy. $2.99, so she got to keep some of her money to bring home. M said she had it named before they were back to the truck. "Toodles." Now I'll be interested to see if this lesson in "value" yield any more care and attention to this toy. I'll try and take a picture later to add to this post later.