I learned super early into the mom game NOT to put my child in situations where he didn't belong.
I went to the mall with a girlfriend once. It was during one of my military schools so I didn't have the kid around. There we were, strolling through the mall all leisurely and what not. Like literally we had the whole day so there was no need to rush. However, because I had developed a strategy for shopping in the mall with a toddler (or a little), I was in and out, done eating and ready to be back at the car in about 30 minutes.
We went into one store and by the time she had gotten done in the fitting room, I had already completed my purchase and was waiting for her at the entrance. She was astonished at how I managed to get in and out of a store AND make a purchase so quickly.
I explained to her that I know my son has a timer. I observe that timer very closely. I had an understanding that once that timer went off, I was in the wrong, not him. Anything, outburst, crying, whining, was my fault at that point. I could not blame this baby for wanting to get out of an overstimulated environment after being exposed for an extended amount fo time. If he hollered, that was to let me know that I had ignored the timer and it was simply time to go.
I know this isn't a popular school of thought. I understand that most parents, especially moms, expect children to sit still and quiet ALL OF THE TIME which is a completely and utterly unrealistic expectation. If you wanted a baby doll to go everywhere with you then maybe you should just literally carry a Cabbage Patch Doll. Children are not hard wired to "sit still". They are learning every single minute of every single day. Their undying thirst for knowledge will not allow them a good strong "sit still". There is nothing to learn in "sit still". Their hearts tell them to touch and analyze everything around them - which turns out to be the opposite of "sit still".
Knowing this about children in general, but more specifically my son, I chose (and still do choose) to NOT make him "sit still".
What I mean by this is, I refuse to put my child is situations where he doesn't belong. I only take him to grocery stores when I have to or when I am running in for something quick. When it is unavoidable to leave him, I make a fun game out of it and I ask him to help me remember the things on the list. This was super fun when he couldn't read because he had to literally remember. It helped him to have a responsibility in the decision making process and gave him something else to focus on - other than the fact that I went down the same aisle three times!
I refuse to take my son shopping late in the evening. I love it when there are loud, crying, whining children being dragged in the mall, or in department stores late in the evening. After 6, I am not dragging my poor child to any store where there could possibly be a long wait or a long walk. There is nothing wrong with a child doing child things and I think they should do more child things more often. I believe (Im going to do some research on it to be sure) that children literally check out after 6. I mean, I made it up, but it makes perfect sense.
When they become tired, they turn into little zombies who are just a mirage memory of the sweet little person they once were. Nothing they say makes sense and everything is a ploy to take down the undefeated champ SLEEP! Forcing a child into, yet another, overstimulated environment during this period of time is disastrous for the kiddos. I try my hardest to stay away from this.
However, again, if it is inevitable, I just pray that I can keep coming up with something clever enough to keep him entertained. However, it's not really worth it, especially if I am looking for something specific. Shopping with a toddler (or a little) is ridiculous anyway.
So this brings me to today, and my last point.
This Saturday morning, I was going to let my little tag along as I engage in my usual Saturday morning routine. Typically, I get up and the first thing I do is head to my local Starbucks to sit and write and organize for the week. I usually work for about an hour or hour and a half and then I head home to start my day with my family. (Geez, that sounds so peachy!!)
This was morning was going to be no different. I was just going to pack up little buddy and bring him along. As I was gathering my mind to make moves, I started piecing together his experience at the Starbucks. He would be bored. He could play games on my phone, but how long would that last? I probably woudn’t get any work done because he would be bugging me. I would be forcing him to get on my nerves, in a sense.
I decided against it. I considered the fact that there is a Krispy Kreme down the street and he has never seen fresh glazed donuts on the machine. I figured that would be a much better trip for him and much easier on me.
I traded and I won. I just considered the baby doll thing. He is 6 and his little mind and heart crave knowledge and adventure. He wants to learn new things and explore the world around him. Why should I stifle that growth with a stiff coffee shop and boring mompreneur stuff?
I enjoyed my morning with my cutie pie! We listened to music, played games, had yummy donuts together and shared too many smiles to count. Sometimes, I can get so wrapped up in assisting others with their happiness that I can easily forget to be a participant in mine.
I'm so glad I have him!!