Ya’ll know I’m all about responsible parenting. That mom or dad thing that directs the children toward appropriate behavior? You know, discipline, guidance, supervision, reasonable expectation. Ahhh, yes. I’ve never met a parent who disagrees these things are important, but as I tell my son “actions speak louder than words”. Some of these families make a trip to Wal-Mart count as a field trip for us. Teachable moments? We’re earning college credits.
Sunday, Lexi and I were checking out of a store. Behind us was a Dad juggling a toddler and little Lulu sporting a new hula-hoop. Pulling out his wallet, Dad stands his little munchkin down, eye level with the CANDY. Now I’m 51 years old and I want to lick the wrappers of the Reece’s cup, but distracted Dad is saying “No, Junior. Lulu stop running”. He gets louder, trying to chase Lulu and pry the sucker from Junior’s jaws. Now he says “Lulu, do you want to put the hula hoop back?”. (Lexi buries her head in my purse and mouths “No!”) Then Dad starts “Lulu, when you get home, you’re going straight to bed”. “Lulu, stop” “Lulu”. “Junior get back over here”. “No, you’re not getting that gum”. “Stand right there”. “Come here”. “You don’t want me to come get you”. “Put that down” ….you get the picture.
As we gathered our purchases, I looked back to see the counter filled with 1 hula hoop, a plastic car, 1 opened box of cookies, 3 suckers, 2 packs of gum, Lulu was 2 aisles over and Junior had sticky dripping off his chin.
I’m glad he purchased the gnawed-on edibles, rather than put them back on the shelf. I’m glad he gave his children instruction. However, not reinforcing his words with action is a lesson in itself. He has taught his children that ignoring him is OK, that disobedience will have no consequence, that in the end it’s all about having fun and getting goodies. At least Dad was stressed – a step up, in my opinion, from the oblivion of some parents who just tune out.
We all have these teachable opportunities, less-than-stellar parenting experiences and ! lightbulb ! moments when persistence pays off. I know when I am frustrated with my own children, all it takes is a trip to the store to recognize that I should instead, be grateful.