My daughter is a Daisy Scout. I currently have 200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies sitting in my dining room to prove it. She enjoys scouts, and it’s a great social activity for her. Today, the scouts enjoyed their annual “Thinking Day”; they spent the morning learning about things related to this year’s theme, Italy. When I received the information for the event, I signed her up right away. What a great, inexpensive weekend activity for her! But, as the event drew closer, I began to realize the logistical issues that accompany a weekend event. My hubby works most Saturday mornings, and today was no exception. That left me to get three kids out of bed, dressed, fed, and out the door almost as early as we do through the week. Ugh. Add in the fact that they know it’s Saturday, and we usually don’t get up and go that early, and they were cranky. It was loads of fun just getting them ready. The boys lost their morning television and iPad privileges before 8:15am.
Oh, but the fun didn’t stop there!
I asked the boys no less than 15 times to get their coats so we could go. They refused, so we left without coats. It was chilly this morning, but not freezing cold and not raining or snowing, so I figured I would teach them the importance of listening to my words without being too mean. I was being stubborn; all too often we are late to events because I am dealing with the behavioral issues exhibited by my son with Down syndrome, and copied by his younger brother because apparently it’s fun to make your mom’s head explode. I warned them that they would be cold if they didn’t bring coats, yet they continued to dismiss my words, so we left. I had to teach them a lesson.
When we arrived to the school where Thinking Day was held (right on time, for once!), my oldest son made quite a bit of noise about having to get out of the car without his coat. I simply stated, “Mommy told you to bring your coat. You did not listen. We don’t want your sister to be late. Let’s go.” Then I repeated that phrase, many times, until he reluctantly left the car. He proceeded to wail, at the top of his lungs, “I’m freeeeeeezing!!!”…which, of course, led to staring by all the judgmental parents that have obviously never dealt with a child with special needs. You could almost read it in their eyes: “How could she not put a coat on that poor child?!?” Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately?), I’m getting more and more used to these glares, and my return glares have an obvious message back to them: “Mind your own damn business, and go suck an egg.”
Totally not nice, I know. But, go through this several times a week, and you lose your patience with those who seemingly judge how you react to this type of public tantrum. I don’t have time to address them more diplomatically, and in the heat of the moment, that’s the look they get from me. Based on how quickly they drop their eyes tells me that I’m getting through to them.
It shouldn’t have to be that way. All kids have tantrums, rough days, episodes in public that embarrass their parents. Nobody needs an audience, or looks of pity, or strangers offering “words of wisdom” (yes, that’s happened to me before…I almost bit my tongue in half trying not to tell them what I thought of their advice…). Just let the parents deal with it; don’t add to the incident. That’s not helping anybody.
Somehow, we made it back to the car, and before I could blink, the tantrum was over. We made it home, the boys played well together, and before I knew it, we had to head back to pick up my daughter. I was surprised (and a little smug!) when my boys immediately grabbed their coats when I told them it was time to go. I did it! I won a battle!! If nothing else gets accomplished this weekend, I can take comfort in the fact that I got through to them: when Mom says to take your coat, do it, or be cold.
There will be many other times when the message does not get through so easily. I will definitely refer back to this incident to remind myself that I can get through to them, and that I will do it regardless of how many dirty looks I get from people around us.