On Saturday I bravely faced the pre-Mothers Day craziness at Darwin’s only major shopping centre with all four children, in order to exchange a faulty birthday present I had bought for my mum.
To say it was chaotic would be kind.
There were people everywhere, all doing their own thing and making me wish that my plan for world domination had been implemented by now.
Failing that though, I was trying to make sure that my kids and I were not one of the many other self absorbed shoppers getting in people’s way, and parking Trolley’s in inconvenient places. I would like to say that we succeeded in our mission, and in some instances we did; in others we failed dramatically.
One of my biggest frustrations in shopping centres is uncontrolled kids; mine included. It’s not the store tantrums and screaming fits that are frustrating. They happen to the best of us regardless of how wonderful the day has been so far. In fact I’m quite sure those moments occur just to keep us humble 🙂
No more frustrating than that, is the parent who has given up on teaching good shopping etiquette, and is trying to avoid conflict at all costs. We’ve all seen them.
I know I certainly have been them.
- You let them walk because trying to force them into a trolley or pram is akin to trying to skin a cat. And then you spend the rest of the shopping trip chasing them down the aisles, or negotiating gift buying so as you will ‘please come here!!!’
- You resort to bribery after five minutes in the store. Promising a chocolate, a milkshake, new shoes or possibly even a shiny red convertible if they will just shut up and do what they are told for five minutes.
- image credit
- You spend the first half of the shopping trip apologising to people because the toddler keeps running in front of anyone with a trolley, pram, or walking frame, and nearly causes a four cart pileup on the escalator.
- And then you spend the next half of the shopping trip so entirely over apologising you think, ‘if one more person looks at me like that, I’m going to give them a piece of my mind.’
By the time you get home, three hours after your very quick ‘pop in to the shops’ you are insisting every body has a sleep and leave you alone for the next week.
Or maybe it’s just me?
So on Saturday, when I’m at the shop, I was watching the kids like a hawk, trying my best to prevent any of the above scenario happening, and it occurred to me, that somewhere along the line, it had got easier.
Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but easier.
Bridie used to be the worst kid to take to the shop. Those above scenarios? All her.
Even at almost 7 she is not as well behaved as I would expect, but it is mostly because of her passion for all things retail that she is such a firecracker in a store. She loves to be there and see and touch everything that consumerism has to offer. It would be cute if it wasn’t occasionally annoying.
Watching her on Saturday, and the two younger ones (Ava threatens to follow in her big sisters footsteps), I realised though that they had all improved. It wasn’t as hard as it always was, and I only had to apologise about three times (as opposed to 33). Whilst I looked at them, a thought popped into my mind that I hadn’t thought of for years:
It was something an old pastor used to say when I was a kid, and I never really understood it (on account of being a kid.) On Saturday though, the light suddenly dawned on me. Teaching does not occur instantly; behaviour does not usually occur over night. It takes time and it needs to be built. Like a house where the layer of bricks is laid one upon another, so is our instruction given to our tiny people.
Line upon line. Precept upon Precept. Constant reminders, constant examples and constant teaching. Building the why of our behaviours into their little hearts over and over and over again, until one day, when they accidentally step in front of the old man in the wheel chair, they apologise themselves, and make a decision to try better next time.
I often wish that my kids would just get it instantly, and then get frustrated when they don’t. But what I need to remember is that it only matters if they get it eventually, and my job is just to keep trying.
Line upon line.
Precept upon precept.