I do not recall how it came about that my daughter had absolutely no tennis shoes that could be stuffed onto her feet even for a one hour t-ball practice, but it happened. I had no choice but to take all four kids aged six months to eight years to the local over-priced department store to buy shoes for a 6-year-old girl whose first t-ball practice started in about an hour.
Side note: While I would not think twice about taking four kids somewhere alone now, at the time I normally ran errands while the oldest was at school. When I was days away from delivering the baby who was six months old at the time of this incident, I had brought him along to the grocery store explaining that mommy really needed his big muscles to put all the groceries in the car because she was so tired from being pregnant. That part worked great, but he also rammed the cart into a three-tiered stand of candy bars so hard it sent them flying 20-plus feet down the aisle. I also told the store worker not to help him pick them up, possibly in a satan voice. Needless to say, I avoided taking him too many places after that.
I do not recall a whole lot about the tennis shoe buying other than I was already hot and frazzled by whatever was going on and it was taking too long. Throughout the picking out and trying on, my older son was repeatedly asking for a pair of Crocs. I repeatedly told him I was not buying them. He refused to put them back on the shelf and insisted more loudly that he was going to get them.
As we boxed up our pick and headed to the check-out register with the sales clerk, I sternly informed him that I would NOT be buying the Crocs and he needed to put them down NOW! My son looked me straight in the eye from several feet away and ripped the price tag from the Crocs, proclaiming, “Now you HAVE to buy them!”
I am not proud of the scene that ensued. Remember this was a decent-sized eight-year-old, not an easily man-handled toddler, I was dealing with. I handed the baby to the six-year-old who was really not big enough to properly hold a wiggly 6-month-old and then I chased him down through the store. I am guessing that to the soft-spoken sales clerk, I looked like a lioness pouncing on a fleeing gazelle when I caught up to him. I know I felt like one! I wrestled him to the ground and pinned him under a knee as I needed both hands to release the death grip he had on the pair of Crocs. I put the tag into the toe of the Crocs and sat them on the counter, mumbled an apology about the tag and reiterated that we would not be buying them, and took the baby back from my struggling daughter all while keeping a death grip of my own on my son’s wrist. The woman behind the counter offered me no consolation. She just stared at me completely aghast. I stood there waiting for what seemed like eternity for her to ring up the shoes and run my credit card with a face so flaming hot from rage, embarrassment, and a poorly air-conditioned room that I think it could have actually started a fire with the right kindling.
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This is a series of stories about my oldest child. During his early years, I spent my on-line time reviewing symptom checklists for a variety of behavioral disorders, and I was quite sure we would have to send him to military school one day. I felt completely defeated by his behavior on many occasions. I have long struggled to find the right way to share these stories on my blog. I finally decided just to write them as they are, with no great revelation about their impact. (Though a couple do include a follow-up disciplinary technique that worked!) My purpose in sharing these stories is three-fold. I hope to provide a good laugh, to give a thank-goodness-its-not-just-my-kid OR an at-least-my-kid-hasn’t-done-that feeling, and also to instill hope that your ‘that’ kid can turn out to be as amazing as mine someday. He still drives me somewhat crazy, but at 18 he is a great person with a bright future (and was not sent to military school)! Some personality traits that are horrific in a young child are pretty dang awesome in a teen ready to head out into the world.
Days later I wondered what I could have done differently and decided I should have called his bluff and done nothing. He was old enough to understand stealing. I should have bought the tennis shoes and walked out the door and then dealt with it if that didn’t work.
Sometime later the opportunity arose at another check-out stand to give the new tactic a try. He insisted I was going to buy him candy and told me I better pay for it because he was taking it. I calmly informed him that leaving with the candy would be stealing because I was not going to pay for it. I told him the girl behind the counter would call the police if he left with it and we would be waiting in the parking lot when they arrived. I still feel bad for that poor girl. She looked like a deer in the headlights contemplating having to call the police on this little boy. Luckily for the both of us, he didn’t take it that far. He stomped and yelled, but he put the candy back on the shelf.
I am the mother of seven children ranging from teens to a toddler, living out in the middle of nowhere, USA. I aim to hone the craft of giving advice without pretending to have this whole mom thing figured out. I am Christian, but not the really nice kind that is good at it. I am also conservative, but I promise not to be in your face with political agendas very often. I like to infuse humor into my writing, so don't freak out if you are offended or appalled by what you read here. There is a very fine line between serious advice and sarcastic hyperbole.