Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Can’t See Your Eye for that Mouth of Yours

Braedyn’s 6th birthday proved to be an interesting roller coaster of ups and downs.

First, both Greg and I volunteered in his Kindergarten classroom, which he felt was quite a treat. BUT, he had a sub in his class, so he didn’t get all the usual birthday perks that his teacher usually provided birthday boys and girls. He took it in stride and enjoyed getting to hand out cookies to all the kids in the class as a way to celebrate his day. The best part about that was the cookies we brought turned all the kids’ lips and teeth black. It would have been chillingly zombie-like if it hadn’t been so dang cute.

Not really thinking, I had scheduled his 6-year wellness visit at the pediatrician’s on his birthday. Bad, mommy. Bad. However, the saving grace was he didn’t need any shots (not until the trip we’re all taking in a couple of weeks to get whatever it is we need for China). Greg suggested to Braedyn that “maybe Mommy will get you a treat after the doctor’s office.” Bad, daddy. Bad. Greg was thinking a little food treat, but Braedyn heard “treat” and instantly set his mind on a toy. And when I say “set his mind”, I mean the idea of a toy was like a snare catching a big, bad ass animal and not letting go. Since it was his birthday, I decided, against my better judgment, to take him to to a big, horrible, mega-store and let him pick out something less than $5.


Everything he wanted was of course more than $5, but I had drawn the line in the sand and I wasn’t wavering in my resolve. In fact, we talked about how he needed to find something that had a price starting with a 5 and then a period. It was a good life lesson, right? Well, I let him mull it over and look up and down the aisles… Look up and down the aisles and mull it over… *yawn* There was a complaint here and there about how he wanted things that were over $5, but I let them slide. It was his birthday after all. So, after an HOUR of this mulling and looking, I told him he had 5 minutes to decide. Tears. I calmly explained to him that this was supposed to be a small treat for being good at the doctor’s office and not a birthday present. I also explained to him that his aunts and uncles were looking for ideas of what to get him, so we could make a list of the toys he would like. With the 2 minute warning, I got screams. When I told him he had to pick, he told me I was mean because he wanted toys that were over $5.

*snap* <----- That would be the sound of the straw breaking the camel’s back.

I then told him CALMLY that we were leaving without anything, that he no longer was going to get a toy because his behavior was unacceptable. I’m certain people on the other side of the mega-square-foot store could hear the shriek that came from my son at that moment. Since I had already picked out a couple of other necessities from the evil, mega-corp, I still had go through the check out - with a tantruming 6 year old. I was wishing for a hot poker to the eye instead, but since I had no such luck, I had to endure. The woman ahead of us was telling the checker “that she’s never had any, and for that she was glad.” Kids. I’m sure she meant kids. Then another woman came up to me and put her arm around me and said, “You are doing a great job.” I’m fairly certain she meant that and wasn’t just being sarcastic. I think.

Since he still hadn’t let go of the $5 toy he grabbed when I told him time was up, I had to tell him we were not leaving the store with the toy. It was time to put it down. A young employee of the nefarious, mega-corp was trying to help me by telling Braedyn that if he left with the toy, the alarms would sound and he’d be arrested. Apparently that was enough for the iron grip to release. Then the employee offered him a piece of candy. I was thinking, “That’s nice. She must be handing out Halloween candy.” Um, that would be a no. Instead she pulled out an open bag of gummy worms that she obviously had during a recent break. Then I did a horrible thing. I let him have one. From an open bag. From a stranger. I guess in my desire to get the hell out of the store without another meltdown from my son, I said yes. Not an excuse, but still. It still makes me shudder to think of it now.

So things got back to normal after that. My obviously very tired son would not take a nap before we left for dinner at his favorite “lunch house”, Red Robin. What a treat that ended up being! No sarcasm here. Seriously! It was a blast! We happened to go on a night we never usually go on, and it was “Kids Night”. We had a magician doing tricks at our table that had the kids doing some serious jaw-dropping. Then there were the free ice cream sundaes and birthday song by the employees. And if that weren’t enough, there was an animal balloon maker wowing a slew of kids, mine included. The guy was absolutely amazing, and after my own balloon fiasco, I have an amazing amount of respect for his craft.

The most difficult thing that happened, for me anyway, was not the tantrum in the mega store, if you can believe it. It was a girl walking past us on our way to our car. She had a very large birthmark around her eye, and once I saw it I was nervous that Braedyn would say something. You know, since kids have that knack for pointing out things that seem different to them at some of the most awkward times. I glanced over to him just as his pointing finger was aiming, and as she walked passed us:

Braedyn: Hey, look at her eye!

The girl: Oh, THAT’s nice.

Me: He’s six. He doesn’t understand.

The girl: Fucking kid.

Me: I will explain it to him.

I am SO grateful the kids didn’t hear her swearing, and once in the car, we promptly had a discussion about birthmarks. We explained that it could hurt people’s feelings when you point out things that are different about them. We followed that up with a discussion that being different doesn’t make one bad or scary. We explained that we needed to be considerate of others’ feelings, so if they have a question about something they see that is different, they can always ask us. Of course, I’m saying this out of my mouth, but my head is thinking that I couldn’t see her eye for that ugly fucking mouth of hers. I understand it must be hard for her, and for that I am completely sympathetic. It’s just obvious that she either doesn’t have kids or has never been around any to see how they behave.

It was hurtful to me to hear someone say something so mean to my son. He wasn’t being mean; he didn’t do it to hurt her. When we had our talk with him, he said empathetically that he didn’t mean to hurt her feelings. He has a big heart, and I am very proud of him – even with a crazy tantrum thrown in once in a while. Keeps my parenting skills on their proverbial toes.

It’s hard to believe this all happened in one day. It was a lot for me; I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to my beautiful six year old boy.


  1. If it helps you feel any better, both of my kids have done ALL of those things. I hate to bag on rude non-parents, because before I had kids I was ignorant about it too, but all a screaming child means is that somebody out there isn't spoiling/bribing their kid just to shut them up. Far as I'm concerned anyway.

    Someday I'll tell you what Ryan did at about 4 years old walking through a hospital corridor in Washington State. Eeeeesh.

    Happy Birthday to Braedyn, hope he ended up having a blast anyway.

  2. I'm proud to know you and have you as a role model. You are doing a great job.

    Also, my husband has done crappy stuff like that to set me up for treats, too.

  3. Wow, that's some kind of day. You handled it admirably. I'd probably have caved on the gummy worm, too.

    At the gym we go to, there's a couple that I frequently see that are "little people." I'd been dreading the day Thumper noticed them, and when it happened, when he saw the woman walking towards us in the hall as we were going to the childcare room, he went full out with the pointing and yelling "That's a little one! That's a little one right there! Daddy? Daddy? That's a little one, Daddy!" I can only hope she understood that he's two. Instead of turning it into an opportunity for dialog, I slinked as quickly out the door as I could.

  4. So, I'm pretty sure you are doing a good job. (In the scheme of things, I know my opinion matters as much as the woman in the toy store, but for what it's worth...)

  5. My daughter is five and we have lots of conversations about pointing. And about not pointing with middle fingers...

    I'm impressed that the birthday excitement didn't cause more tantrums, actually. I think one is a minimum for a day with so much fun in it. :)

  6. Oh my, there are lots of days like this when you're a Mommy, it's exhausting isn't it... but worth it. You're obviously a very caring parent and your son will do just great with your guidance! Better than the chick with the birthmark, maybe she could use some tlc.