OK. We've arrived. Last week, I knew it: The "Terrible Twos" had descended upon our happy home.
Alright, I know, by most standards, we've got it pretty good. Our little one says "please" and "thank you" almost without prompting. And she is, on balance, a gentle child who shares both objects and love freely.
However, we had an incident last week, in our local Barnes & Noble, that made me want to crawl under a rock, both because of the way my little one behaved and because of the way I handled it.
We entered the store, perused the books I was there to purchase, and then made our happy way back to the children's section. On our way back to the kids books, my little angel was so sweet and excited, that she made everyone smile as we passed. "Oh what a cute child," some exclaimed. "How wonderful that she's so excited to look at books," others remarked. I followed her, beaming with pride: Yes, this is my outstanding child.
As we approached the checkout, smiling, my little angel underwent a swift and total transformation. She stole my wallet and ran 25 feet to the exit door. I stood looking at her, afraid to move, lest I frighten her into a full sprint. "Olivia," I called to her, in my best Public Mommy Voice, "come back here this instant!" "NO-O-O-O," she screamed in full voice and sprinted to the back of the (warehouse-size!) store.
I ran after her, trying not to look as though I was running, and, finally, caught ahold of her wrist. "I'm very disappointed with you," was all I could come up with as I dragged her--literally--kicking and screaming the half-a -football-field distance back to the cash wrap.
I completely ignored the irritated glares from the customers in line behind me and completed my purchase with one hand, the other gripping her tiny wrist.
As we left the store, I admonished her for her behavior and told her I would have to take away her favorite toy. After I'd strapped her--crying--into her carseat, I climbed into the driver's seat, and felt like crying myself. What am I doing wrong?
A few days later, I picked up a book that's been sitting on my shelf for a while, Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids, by Naomi Drew. The several chapters I have read have been quite helpful, educating me on the nuances of communication and example. It served as a good reminder that everything--literally everything!--we do and say to our children, gets deposited into their memory banks. The great Albert Schweitzer said "Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing."
And so we embark on a new chapter of growth in our lives, both my daughter's and mine. I go forward, willing to learn, and hoping to inspire--in both of us--more respectful behavior. I hope to accomplish discipline, moderated by peace. I wish to instill boundaries, modeled by respect. My goal--as yours--is to raise a whole, confident, peaceful individual.
I'll let you know how that's working out.