The phrase that ended the whining, pleading and begging in the store…
If you’re reading this blog, there’s probably a good chance you have gone, or someday will be going, shopping with a preschooler. I don’t know a single parent who hasn’t, at least occasionally, endured nerve-grating begging in the store for things you just didn’t set out to buy: play-dough, sugary cereal, chapsticks, batteries…you name it, my older son had probably begged for it. Nothing derails my thought process and meal planning while in the grocery store more than a little voice repeating “But whhhhhy? I neeeeeeeed it! Pleaaaaase! PLEASE!!”. I once spent an entire Target run with the baby in the cart and my older son walking next to the me, loudly moaning “Why don’t you like anything I pick out?!? YOU NEVER BUY ME ANYTHING!”. Both untrue, but nonetheless making me feel like a mean mom and garnering well-deserved grouchy looks from the other shoppers (sorry, if you were one of them and you remember this episode).
The funny thing is, I’ve noticed this has to be rooted in some sort of “Parent versus Preschooler power struggle” more than an actual desire for said item. Nate once spent 10 minutes begging me for a glue gun in Michael’s. A glue gun! Firstly, he has never seen a glue gun and had to ask me what it was called. Secondly, he has no idea what it’s used for. Did this matter? Not a bit. “But I LOVE GLUE GUNS! I don’t even have one! I’ll never have a glue gun of my very own…ever!”. If you’re a Mo Willems fan, let’s just say I’ve started calling him “The askingest pigeon around”. (Read every book in his “Pigeon” series to your preschooler. You won’t regret it and neither will your child. They are hysterical.)
I have tried every trick in the book to end the insanity while shopping. Some moms I know simply don’t shop with their kids. This is tempting, and I do so whenever possible, but in some ways, I feel like that’s admitting defeat. I need to know I can take my preschooler in public and not worry about a meltdown over Lucky Charms. Then, one day, I was paying in cash, something I rarely do. Nate asked for an individual bag of Goldfish crackers. We had snacks at home already. I had limited cash on me. It wasn’t happening. I braced myself for the whining and said “I’m sorry, but I didn’t bring money to buy that today”. Nothing. No whining, no pleading…nothing. “Ok. Can I bring some of my change out of my change jar for it next time?”. “Sure.” And just like that, we moved on. Ever since then, I will sometimes give him a choice on items we actually do need, such as “Do you want raspberry jam or strawberry? Chocolate ice cream or rocky road?”, but he completely accepts “I didn’t bring money to buy that today” for things we truly didn’t set out to buy. Give it a try! It probably won’t work with every kid (nothing ever does!), but hey, it’s worth a shot!