Humbled once again. I’m in a clothing store. I’ve “set the stage” (unfortunately, I did not do a recent reminder about this concept…) with my children that we buy what they need, so this means that they may or may not get the same thing as the other.
As in, older sister has outgrown her flats and needs new shoes. Younger brother has a plethera of fitting shoes as he gets hand-me-downs from an only child two years his senior. He will not be getting shoes today. Younger brother needs another plaid shirt since he has one and has worn it twelve days in a row and has clearly identified his style, plaid, and he deserves to have another plaid shirt to choose from. Older sister will not be buying shirts today; it was recently her birthday and she is set in that department.
So, we are in the shoe isle, fitting older sister, whilst nursing youngest sister in the Ergo. Younger brother sees Spider Man tennis shoes. He is seized by the overwhelming, all-encompassing, passionate DESIRE for these shoes. His request/demand is not met with compliance. He is devastated. He is in tears. He is bereft.
He is lying on the floor of the store, crying at full volume. Yes, he is four. Yes, he is a boy. Regardless if it’s age appropriate, despite the effect of nutrition and rest in this moment, I am the mother of three children six-years old and under, I am nursing my 16-month old, and I can’t even reach down to pick up my four-year old.
My six-year old is trying to very maturely explain the rationale behind my decision; not lost on me is the fact that in this instance, SHE gets the shoes.
Here is the breath of the matter: my son fell apart and I waited him out. I let him have his feelings. It was difficult. It was uncomfortable.
I tried to comfort him and I tried to explain my decision (again,) but, that didn’t stop his tears. He needed to just get through his feelings.
After a bit, I reiterated, “I am sorry you are so disappointed. It hurts my heart to see you sad. I understand being upset; I’ve wanted shoes before and didn’t get to buy them. I want you to take my hand now. I need for you to come with me now.”
Witness, Empathy, Limit.
And, he did. We went to the plaid shirt area of the store. He choose his new shirt; green plaid. Feelings pass, even big feelings.
Two fellow travelers (moms with babes) came up to me during the storm in the shoe isle. One said, “I wish I could pick him up for you but I know that won’t help.” Another said, “I’m 60-years old and I have four foster kids; it’s age appropriate what your son is doing. It ain’t always pretty but it’s life.” As my friends in New York say, “Right?”
About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today's progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.