13 November 2013

the store is my playground

Taking S. to any store is pretty much the worst. This is discouraging, as I am only trying to take ONE child shopping here. (How does one do it with more young children in tow?)

Yesterday I decided I wanted to check out Goodwill. This was clearly a bad idea, but my brain forgot to remind me that I had a toddler in tow. So I carried on in blithe ignorance. I set S. down so I could browse while monitoring him in the corner of my eye, and then he booked it in the other direction, out of my sight. After lingering briefly, I went to follow him and couldn't spot where he'd gone.

Shortly thereafter, I hear over the store intercom, "Could the mother of a toddler with blonde hair and blue eyes please come to Customer Service?"

Hustling a bit, I headed to the front of the store and was greeted by the unmistakable sound of my child's crying. When I got to him, the employees told me he had run out the front doors before they retrieved him.

Cue judgey looks.

I thanked them and made a half-hearted attempt to resume shopping, but S. wasn't having it, so I left.

I felt angry and frustrated with S., but I think what actually made me angry and frustrated was how judged I felt by the employees of Goodwill. I appreciate them saving my kid from self-harm and all (I don't even know if he made it all the way outside, but I sort of doubt he would have gone that far?), but do I need a "Worst Mother of the Year" ribbon, too?

How do I keep my child from running amuck and either destroying property, escaping into the world at large, or otherwise ruining his life (and mine)? When riding in a shopping cart, he cries and wants out and does everything in his power to climb out; when I'm carrying him, he desires to leap to his death.

Do I need to get a child leash? Refuse to take him shopping without backup? Please advise.

The advent of taking S. places without my co-parent is actually a rather novel one, so maybe I just need more practice to perfect it. Until maybe June of this year, I pretty much refused to drive anywhere farther than approximately five minutes away without backup because S. was so hellbent on hating his car seat. If we had errands, I would make Tim drive and I'd sit in the back next to baby and try to distract him. Once I figured out how to do so, my methods usually involved nursing him by leaning over the car seat.

Reminiscing about nursing in the car on a regular basis actually makes me feel a bit better.


Hilary said...

Ouch! I'm sorry. I hate those days when you feel like you've earned the "worst-mother-of-the-year" award. Like the time I'd been driving down the freeway in Birmingham for an hour before my toddler told me I forgot to buckle him. Still feel bad about that one.

I don't believe in leashes for children, but I totally believe in bribery. I usually tuck a little baggie of stick pretzels or cereal in my pocket and pull it out to keep my kids distracted while I shop.

Shopping with a kid(s) is hard. You have to plan a head and be prepared. Time your trips for when your son isn't ready for a nap, hungry, or just woke up from nap. I wait til my kids are in a good mood, and got their "wiggles" out before we leave. Then they are content to sit in a shopping cart, or at least stay by me. And if things get really bad and tantrums start, I pull out the pretzels.

Also, I have to let my kids shop with me, like push the cart, pull stuff off the shelf for me, put things in bags, turn it into a game, keep up a running commentary. Or let them walk around for a few minutes and see everything, then tell them it's my turn to shop.

And car rides are a whole other battle. Plan your trips for just after eating or after they have woken up from a nap and played for little. Also, music is your best friend. With my oldest, Scott and I had to sing "Popcorn Popping" non-stop for the first eight months of his life to go a drive longer than 20 minutes. Then having a basket of toys he could reach into himself and find something to play with helped a lot. We had not money when we bought him a forward-facing car seat, so it was cheap and uncomfortable. One day I had left over piece of foam padding that was only an inch thick, and I put it in his car seat. He said it felt so much better to sit on that. I didn't realize his car seat was so hard and he got tired of sitting in it.

With my second son it is books. We keep a bunch of books stacked next to his car seat so he could peruse them at leisure. And finding a CD of kids music the boys like helps a lot. They are content to listen to it, or to a kid's book on CD. And emergency snacks in the car works great as well. (Just a tip for flying on an airplane: always have a couple of dumb-dumb suckers. I don't let my kids eat candy, but on an airplane, dumb dumbs will save your life.)

And distraction is always the best tool. Get your son to look at the window in the car by naming every truck or car you drive by. Get him interested and he will do better. And in the store if he gets fussy, say Oh,look at this, look at that, and he will stop and look. You have to constantly keep them engaged to keep them well-behaved. (if your into child psychology, it's the "Attachment Theory".)

Sorry this is so long, and most of this stuff might not work with your son, because all kids are different. But I hope it helps. For the first six years of our marriage we only had one car, so our boys have had to deal with a lot of commutes in the car. Hang in there, it gets better.

Margaret said...

Listen to Hilary. All I could think of was, "WOW. IT GETS WORSE."

About Us said...

Hmmm. Just wait until you can go with backup.

Amie said...

Hey, I found your blog through Facebook. I just wanted you to know that I know EXACTLY how you feel. The other day I was strapping my little girl into her car seat while at costco, totally oblivious to the fact that my two year old had started rolling backwards into oncoming traffic in the parking lot. A woman started honking at me, but I couldn't hear, and when I finally looked up after strapping my little girl in, she was pretty upset with me. Telling me that my cart almost hit her car and that she honked at me, and blah blah blah. I felt so embarrassed. I appreciated her saving my childs life (he was oblivious to the whole situation because I had given him a bag of chips to snack on), but i felt judged. And I felt like the worst mom ever. I could just hear all the people around me thinking "what a crazy lady". I don't take my kids shopping if I can help it. Not unless my husband is with me. It's just too hard. Which means I end up going really late, or really early to get my shopping done.

Amie said...

That totally sounds worse than it was. I meant that he started rolling backwards in the cart into the lane in the parking lot. Not into the street or anything. If that makes sense. It was still bad, but not going into oncoming traffic, bad.

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