Monday, October 5, 2009

The Six Best Words

I know you can picture it. You're in the checkout line at the grocery store with your 3-year-old when he spots the foot long Nerds rope. He has to have it. It is the most glorious item he has ever seen, and he can't possibly live one minute longer without it. He tells you this using that very toddler-specific language of shrieking. The particular kind of shriek that suddenly makes every other adult's private thoughts appear in a bubble above their heads. The bubbles say: "What a brat." "I can't believe she lets her kid act that way." "Get that snot-nosed ankle biter out of here!" Some bubble thoughts are much worse than that and cannot be recreated here.

You think you have outgrown that phase with your 7-year-old. But then Halloween comes, and you are at Target, and suddenly the angel costume you already have in the closet at home from years past will not do. It has to be Hannah Montana, full-on with the wig and fake mic and everything. You also find out that, to make the outfit complete, you will have to dress up as a backup singer and follow Hannah around the neighborhood singing harmony to "Best of Both Worlds". Your sweet 7-year-old loses any concept of how to leave a store with some composure. Not so much shrieking this time, but plenty of sobbing. Pretty much the same bubble thoughts spring up all around you.

Surely teenagers have more self-control, right? (My older sisters are laughing out loud right now). Okay, we can get through the candy aisle without too much trouble, and Halloween costumes are no longer cool, but please don't let me happen to pass Electronics with my teenager in tow. No shrieks or sobs, just a certain kind of glare that tells me I am definitely the worst mom in the history of the world if I don't break open my pocketbook, and quick.

Luckily, a miracle occurred in my life several years ago, at a time when I'd completely had it with all those checkout lane showdowns. I somehow stumbled onto the six best words in the annals of parenting: "I'll keep it in my mind". If it is close to my child's birthday, I say, "Wow, that is a really great toy. I'll keep it in my mind for your birthday." If it's closer to Christmas, I say the same thing, replacing birthday with Christmas.

The best part - my kids believe me. The only time I've ever had a problem with it was on that Target shopping trip last year. Don't get me wrong, I tried. But somehow, "Wow, that is a really great Hannah Montana costume. I'll keep it in my mind for Christmas," just didn't cut it.

What works for you? If you have a great tip, you can be sure that I'll keep it in my mind. After all, I've had lots of practice!

1 comment:

Signe said...

True, true. My comments are not quite as nice as "I'll keep that in mind." Mine usually is "Knock it off." Followed by walking away. Maybe your way is better. I'll try it. :)