Monday, July 25, 2011

Rebel in the Making

Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of being hosted by Barnes and Noble to promote my two books.  Since one is a children's book, they invited me to conduct story time in the morning and stay for a book signing in the afternoon.  As I walked in, I saw a beautifully draped table set at the front of the store with my books artistically arranged.  It was impressive and humbling.

I was early, so I proceeded to the back of the store where the children's section is housed.  I noticed a woman asking for advice from a B&N employee.  I heard her say that she and her daughter were attending a birthday party set to begin in less than an hour.  The birthday child had requested books for gifts and the mother was attempting to choose the best ones. 

I proceeded to the small stage in front of the beautiful and child friendly mural.  I sat down and waited for story time to begin.  On my right was a pint sized angel with long curly blond hair in a white summer dress and white sandals.  She could not have weighed more than 30 pounds.  This was a truly beautiful child.  I watched her quietly and methodically look through the books.

In a very short while, her mother found the appropriate birthday present and was ready to leave.  The scene played something like this:

Mother:  We need to go now.  I have the books he wanted.
Angel:  I can't find the book I wanted.
Mother:  Well just pick one.
Angel:  No, I found the one I want and now I lost it.
Mother:  We need to go.  Just pick another book, please.
Angel:  NO! I don't want another book.  I want that one.
Mother:  Well can we choose another book now and come back for it later?
Angel:  NO, SOMEBODY WILL GET IT.
Mother:  We need to go to a birthday party right now.  We need to hurry.
Angel through clinched teeth:  I WANT MY BOOK.
Mother:  What did it look like.
Angel:  IT HAD A PINK STAR ON IT.
Mother:  I don't like the way you are talking to me.  Is that it right there?
Angel:  Yes, oh goody.
Mother:  Fine, now let's go.
They headed to the front of the store to pay for the birthday present and the 'angel's' book. 

This mother just taught her child that if she screams loud enough and long enough, she will get what she wants.  She made a HUGE error in purchasing that book after the child had misbehaved inappropriately and disrespectfully.

I know I have written this before, but it bears repeating.  If you do not correct inappropriate behavior when they are young, don't expect to be able to correct it when they are teenagers.  I cannot tell you how many parents have said to me, "He was a perfect child until he turned 15 and then the horns came out."  No he wasn't a perfect child.  You chose to ignore these small temper tantrums when he weighed 50 pounds.  Therefore, now you are calling the police to handle the tantrums when he weighs 200 pounds. 

I once worked as an accounts receivable clerk.  One day my adding machine kept giving me off the wall totals.  I could put in 34 + 22 =? and get the answer 748490330.  Even with few math skills, one can tell that is not the right answer.  I commented "My adding machine is giving me funny little numbers."  The boss, who rarely spoke, said "Well, maybe you are putting in funny little numbers."  I knew I wasn't, but I also knew he was right.  The machine could only put out what I had put in.  I took the machine apart and found a small piece of paper caught in the "wheels" of my adding machine, which was causing the machine to give me the wrong answers.

If you allow seemingly small cogs in the wheels of your small children, don't expect to get the right answer when they are teenagers.
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