I think that all parents, sooner or later, believe they are the worst parents in the world. Or sometimes, perhaps, they think that they are perceived as the worst parents in the world. And, I have to say, sometimes they really *are* the worst parents in the world…but normally those who feel that way are anything but the worst – because to truly be the worst, they would have to see nothing wrong with their parenting, right? See how that works?
Image this scenario, though: a family of three (mother, father, son) goes to an ice cream shop. The mother and father order bowls of ice cream. They get nothing for their son. The woman behind the counter asks if he wants anything, and the parents say, “No, he doesn’t like ice cream.”
Now imagine this scenario: the same family goes to a toy store. They wander the aisles, repeatedly asking their son, “Do you want this? Do you want this?” He says “no” every time, and if they attempt to put something in their cart, he forcibly removes it and returns it to the shelf. When they check out, the only thing they have purchased is something for the parents. The cashier asks, “Does he like [fill in toy name here]?” The parents say, “Uh, no, that’s for us.”
This is what it’s like whenever we take our son out. He does not like ice cream. Honest. We’ve tried to get him to eat it repeatedly, and even if we can get him to try it, he refuses it the minute he lets it touch his lips. The basic rule is that if you need a spoon to eat it, he won’t like it or be willing to try/eat it. He also never wants things when we go out. We will walk through Target, through Toys R Us, through any place you can think of, and each time we ask him if he wants something, he says no. If we think he may like it and try to buy it – or if we try to buy something for ourselves that he thinks is for him – he will reach in the cart and return it to the shelf, over our protests.
It feels pretty horrible to constantly be told that you cannot buy anything for your child. By your child.
But that’s also why, when he asks for something, we buy it for him. It’s so few and far between that we’re always shocked when it happens, but we never waste any time in getting it for him. Admittedly, he often gets the toy home and then ignores it, never to touch it again. That’s okay, though, because at least we got to buy him something that he wanted and gave him a gift that he liked, even if it’s only for a little while.
So the other day, we were at the dollar store. He had rejected everything we had offered – he loves their paper/drawing pads, and we always stock up on those, but he hates their crayons because they’re not Crayola. He’s a massive Crayola snob. But this time, he didn’t even want paper. Everything was met with a “no.” Until we got into the line. Then he wandered over to the quarter machines at the front of the store and started trying to make the one with glittery stickers work. He got the idea – you shove the little metal thing into it – but he didn’t have any quarters, so clearly nothing was coming out. I dug through my wallet, found two quarters, and handed them over. He slide the slid, and wham, out came a set of what had to be pretty much the ugliest stickers of dogs in the world. Super ugly stickers. And he was thrilled.
Now, Simon has a very clear idea of what to do with a sticker. He puts it on his arm. I have no idea why this is. But every time he has a sticker, he peels it off the backing, slaps it on his arm, and keeps it there for most of a day. He does it when he gets them at the doctor’s office or when he gets one at the grocery store at the check-out. And he did it with these. The ugly little glittery dog stayed on his arm for most of the day, only to come off when it was bath and bed time.
I’m not sure if we’re really the worst parents in the world or not, but I think that letting him wear that ugly dog sticker might rank us pretty high up there.