Friday, July 16, 2010

The Best Parents Are Those Without Children

This wouldn't really be my blog without an occasional rant. So here you are....

A couple of days ago there was a front page article in the Deseret News (here in UT) that caught my attention: "Dangerous Rides While Shopping" . This article expounded on the dangers of shopping carts including the line, "It seems some parents are more worried about their eggs than their children." Personally, I thought this article was a revelation. All of this time I had thought that the reason that Jackson climbed all over the cart while we shopped was because he is an extremely physical child who can get out of any buckle in 10 seconds flat and is not capable of sitting still for the time that it takes to do grocery shopping for a family of six and I usually have another child strapped to my chest in a front pack (which creates a slight disadvantage when trying to wrestle him back in). Now I know that it is really because I care more about the eggs in my cart than about my son. Glad to have that cleared up. What would I do without the Deseret News?

The article goes on to explain how store employees will often try to help or even "resort to bribery to remedy the situation." (Why didn't I think of that? Oh yeah, I did, but the fruit snacks are gone. And do you really think your sticker is going to get Jackson to sit down and stop screaming?) If all parties involved were really most concerned with child safety, they would be fine with the alternative of letting the two-year-old run wild up and down the aisles, pulling items off the shelf and throwing them at random, but people aren't too happy with me when I do that either. I admit, kids can be made to sit still in a shopping cart if it is absolutely required, but as a friend commented on facebook when I remarked about this article, "People get upset when you tie your kids in with duct tape."

Sure, the article offers good alternatives to the dangers of the evil shopping cart, such as the newly designed shopping carts with a car for the child to drive stuck to the front. It is close to the ground so the child can't fall; unfortunately that means that it takes about five minutes before Jackson is out of the little car and running up and down the aisles-- that's assuming that the store has one of the new-fangled carts to begin with. But wait, I forgot another great alternative they suggested: just bring a wagon or stroller for the child and put them in that instead. Which would be a fantastic alternative if your object at hand was just to look and not to actually shop. I have yet to find a stroller that has room for a child and groceries for a family of six. The wagon alternative is tempting (after all, who would think that packing a wagon along in your car for shopping trips is a chore?) but I tend to think that piling groceries on top of your child would get you some dirty looks, not to mention that placing groceries where Jackson can reach them means only one thing: Target Practice (as in, "How far can I throw this apple?")!! Of course the best alternative is to not take your child shopping in the first place-- which would be great if all stores were open between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am (when there is another responsible adult at home at our house).

Before you get up in arms and tell me what a bad parent I am, let me say a couple of things. Whenever I shop I look for the carts with child restraint devices in the seat (who wouldn't?) and I am religious about buckling Jackson in. That works really well for about 30 seconds or maybe even 10 minutes on a good day. I never allow Jackson to climb into the bigger basket, which would always be his preference, even if he throws a tantrum-- at least at the beginning of a shopping trip. I have lost multiple packages of eggs in shopping trips with Jackson and have never had him fall out... yet (although I admit it is better luck than common sense). But honestly most two-year-olds are not likely to sit still and be happy for the time that it takes to complete a shopping trip for a family of six, let alone Jackson. I can start with him buckled and happy, but by the end of the trip-- even after getting a free cookie, a sticker and breaking open half a dozen bags of fruit snacks-- he will either be gleefully climbing over the cart trying to get out or screaming his head off and poking his baby sister (who is in my front pack) at every opportunity. (But wait... that doesn't work. If I give him cookies and fruit snacks to keep him quiet, then I will be guilty of causing child obesity and will still be an abusive parent.)

I guess what bugs me the most is that this article is based on the assumption that the parents are either ignorant or don't care and THAT is the root of this epidemic problem-- as if I didn't know that my child should be buckled or make any efforts to keep him safe. Oh- and that the child is a passive, inanimate object who will do exactly what "it" is told and stay where "it" is put. I hate to rock the boat, but did anyone realize that there is another component to this situation, namely, the child? Instead of focusing our efforts on parent education, why don't we refocus our efforts on educating the two-year-old that it is in HIS best interest to stay seated and buckled. *I'm sure* that if the two-year-old only realizes that (regardless of how much more fun it is to climb around the cart or run up and down the aisles) he will be safer and the other shoppers will have a more pleasant experience if he stays quietly seated and buckled up, then he will stay seated. Always. Quietly, of course. Of course, this terrible problem would be solved if I just didn't have my four troublesome children in the first place (how thoughtless of me).

On the airplane from California to Utah I was lucky enough to have my sister with me (versus flying alone with four kids from Oregon to California-- that was downright scary). We split the kids between the two of us on two rows and did our best to keep them quiet on the 90-minute flight. (Did I mention that Adelyn single-handedly delayed the take-off by having a diaper blowout just minutes before the plane left? Way to get off to a great start....) Jackson did remarkably well (we had a great flight attendant who gave him extra snacks and did duck-quacking impressions) and we managed to keep him in his seat, but towards the end of the flight he started to get really wiggly. Finally the lady sitting in front of him stood up, turned and looked him in the face and said (to this two-year-old), "Will you please stop kicking my seat? I don't like it." He stopped and stared at her for at least 40 seconds before he started again during which she triumphantly turned to me and said, "Sometimes you just have to ask them and then they will listen."

I really didn't know what to say. I had weighed trying to get him to stop with the risk of inciting a screaming, food-throwing tantrum or the alternative of him racing up and down the aisles and figured it wasn't worth the risk. So I just apologized for his wiggliness and let her think I was a bad parent. I guess you just can't win. Where's my duct tape when I need it?

3 comments:

Emily Laing said...

Um....WOW! I love the whole airline stuff. You just can't make this stuff up!! Well, I am so glad that you are writing this all down, because someday Jackson will be a father and he will appreciate the wonder that is his mother!

Kate said...

Never leave home without the duct tape!
I feel your pain and your rage. Nothing makes me angrier, as a parent, than having someone with no children or with only 1 or 2 children who are not as old as mine telling me what I'm doing wrong. However, I remember being that parent of only one, remarkably easy baby, I used to have all the answers, too. Thankfully (or not) the addition of 3 more children has taught me to do the best I can with my 4 kids and assume that those "innocent" (inexperienced) mothers will probably learn the same lessons that we did. Then they'll be wishing for more lenient duct tape laws, too.

rlmquest said...

I loved this post. I struggle with the shopping cart also! Kamry at about 2 years old even fell out of one onto the concrete...it was a horrible cracking sound as she hit head first. We rushed her off to urgent care and she was fine...minor concussion.

We had the same experience on our flight to NY at Christmas time. The man in front of Kyler spoke to him like he was an adult who would listen "Stop kicking my chair please." We even offered for him to switch seats with one of our other children who wouldn't mind being kicked! He rudely refused and kyler kindly continued kicking his seat.