Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best Time of the Year

Forget New Year's Day. Forget Birthdays. The REAL start of any year is the beginning of the school year. Even now, as removed as I am from the life of an academic, my step becomes more springy as the days gets cooler, the school buses start rolling, and the smell of new erasers and paper fills the air. Chickadee #1 starts kindergarten this year, at our local parish school. She gets to wear a uniform (thank God) and and will get in the classroom of a very loving, and very no-nonsense Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sister. Just what Chickadee #1 needs. Less nonsense. More loving.

I got the chance today to demonstrate the turning over of multiple new leaves -- my imperviousness to shame, my ability to absorb pain, my new found resolution to stick to my guns when it comes to the chickadees, and my refusal to take any nonsense from them. I was proud of myself, but I don't think our local Target will stop talking about us any time soon.

It's a beautiful day here in the center of the Mid-Atlantic region. Clouds marching off into the distance make you imagine fairy realms high in the air. I spent the morning at the doctor's office (full physical -- blood work and x-ray results to follow. We'll get to the bottom of this pain thing I am sure.) After I picked up the chickadees from my friend's house, I softened the blow of them leaving their best friends by telling them that we had to go to Target to pick up a few things, but that if they were good and obeyed the rules, I would take them bike and trike riding in the school parking lot (empty) afterwards. I was looking forward to their playing and my sitting on a convenient stump reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is marvelous.

Before we went into the store, these were the rules I set down:
1. Stay with Mommy.
2. No pulling things from the shelves.
3. No shouting or disrespect.
4. We buy only what is necessary.

If they successfully followed these rules, we would have the rewarding experience of riding and reading. If not, we would leave the store immediately and come straight home.

So off we went. Chickadee #1 was really trying to follow the rules, although she strayed from the straight and narrow a few times (pushing the cart when told not to, for example). Chickadee #2 was bopping along, mostly in the cart. We picked up what we'd come for on the first floor. We rode the escalator upstairs as a special treat (the chickadees love the "cart escalator" in Target) and started to look at books. Then Chickadee #1 had to use the bathroom. We made a successful potty visit and the hand washing reminded me that I needed Purell. So, it was off downstairs again, and another escalator ride. While we were walking towards the pharmacy area, Chickadee #1 pulled away to grab a Sponge bob Square pants watch from the jewelry section -- she just wanted me to see it and put it back as soon as I told her to. But, she broke rule #1 and rule #2.

And MUCH WORSE, she gave Chickadee #2 the idea to check out the kiddie watches. She grabbed a Dora watch and tried to open the packaging. She wanted to buy it. When I said no, she went into full blown TANTRUM mode. Screaming, crying, thrashing about, etc. I said that we were leaving, and Chickadee #1 started to have a fit about the cart we were leaving behind. So now I had two screaming chickadees who absolutely couldn't believe that I was leaving the store without buying the watch and/or buying anything and that we were going straight home.

I managed to get the kids intact up to the fifth floor of the garage (where we'd parked to enjoy the fantastic sky view just twenty minutes prior -- but oh how crucial a twenty minutes it was) and into the car. Then I left them in the car and watched the clouds go along until the roaring and gnashing of teeth had subsided to a dull whimper. When I got back into the car, I warned them that we would stop the car if they started to cry and fuss again. We got down to level 4 of the garage when it started up again. I drove back up to level 5, got out of the car, looked at the sky for a few more minutes, and called my husband for some moral support. He, of course, backed me up completely. He also shored up my wavering (maybe I should give them another chance??? NOOOO!) and asked to speak to a very upset chickadee #1, who felt that the punishment did not fit the crime -- she hadn't started the tantruming, and she put the watch back, after all. He was able to calm both down a little bit -- despite stifled sobbing from the back seat, we drove home fairly well. Chickadee #2 fell asleep on the way, and I was able to have a reasonable talk with Chickadee #1 about the consequences of not following the rules and the unfortunate fact that, if her sister can't go bike riding, she can't go bike riding either.

She doesn't know it, but my husband and I have agreed that, if she behaves well for the rest of the day, I'll take her to ride her bike after dinner while he puts her sister to sleep.

I'm exhausted but happy to have stuck to my guns. I think we'll all be the better for it.


  1. Good for you! It can certainly be tough to follow through like that.

  2. Target is hard. So hard. And the new setup of the one they just remodeled? RIDICULOUS. The toy section is visible from most of the store as you walk in. Am. not. happy.

    Take a deep breath -- you'll get through it.