Tuesday, June 16, 2009

His Worst Day

We went to the Wild Animal Park on Monday with a few friends. Three moms and 7 kids. That means we moved through the park very, very slowly. Bathroom breaks were frequent as we could not get the kids to go at the same time. Everything was interesting so we stopped at every little display which means, in a park filled with a million animals, we saw two or maybe four. I remember some birds, some monkeys and a couple gorillas. The highlight of the day was checking out the Dinosaur Mountain which is a temporary exhibit of life size robot dinosaurs. The dinosaurs were very cool. We could all agree on that. Of course, at the end of the exhibit, there was a little gift shop and of course, Sam noticed it and then begged to buy a little plastic dinosaur. (He just received about 10,001 little dinosaurs for his birthday.) I told him "not today." He got upset. I told him we could think of a way for him to earn it and get it another day. This was not good enough. I had to threaten to leave the park and his friends. He got the hint. We moved on and found a place for a lunch break. But that wasn't the end of it. Don't think I didn't get asked every ten minutes about when we could come back to get the prized dinosaur. I had to threaten again that if he nagged about it all day he would not get it at all. Ever. After lunch, we tried to make our way to see the lions but got distracted by a playground area on the way. The kids had a blast, running, climbing and playing. Then it was time to go.
On our way out of the park, Sam told me, "This was my worst day ever at the Wild Animal Park." I love a moment like that. Makes me feel like a total failure of a mom. Did he really just say that to me? After packing up lunches, applying sunscreen, making sure to bring water and snacks, packing up the stroller, grabbing my camera, racing out of the house, driving 40 minutes to meet our friends for what we all hoped would be a beautiful day wandering the park and seeing all the wild animals, I get told it was his worst day. This was also the day he finally had a chance to introduce his very good friend Ben to his very good friend Andrew. He has wanted them to meet for quite a while and we finally had a chance to get them together. They all got along, they played, they laughed, they talked. But this was his worst day. He tells me it is his worst day because he did not get that little dinosaur he wanted. What happened to my little boy who once upon a time would walk by a gift shop and look at everything without any notion that the items on display were actually available to buy? We used to be able to just say, "Oh, Wow! How neat! Now put it back, sweetie, it's not ours." And that would be it. But he is 5 now and knows toys are available to take home if we give the store money. Melissa, Ben's mom, told me at one point, Ben asked her, "Mom, Can I have ten dollars? Sam needs it."
I would buy my kids everything they ever dreamed of if I could afford it and if I didn't think it would spoil them. I love seeing them get excited for a new toy - it is fun for me too. It had even crossed my mind to go secretly buy the little guy so I could save it as a surprise gift for some exceptional behavior in the future. But that worst day comment put an abrupt end to that thought. I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I had to make him feel guilty for that remark. I pulled him aside and quietly listed all of the fun things we had done that day, pointed out that Ben and Andrew finally met, reminded him how hard Daddy works so that we can do fun days like this, and suggested if this creates his worst day, then we won't do fun things anymore. We will just stay at home so he won't have any more bad days. Then I walked away and told him to come follow me as I pushed Elise in the stroller back to the car. And I was quiet. I quietly loaded the car up, buckled them in and started the car. From the backseat, Sam said, "Mommy, I had a great day. I have great days everyday because I have fun everyday!" I know he was just telling me what I wanted to hear. But I think he got the message. I think. I hope. But then as all moms do, I questioned myself. Did I overdo it? Am I creating weird guilt issues for him? Am I a bad mom? I told him I am happy he had a good day and that I had a good day too. And the learning how to be a mom to a 5 year old continues...


Joiner Family said...

Ha, it is a funny story to me but I know not so much to you! I dread the day Regan knows we can buy stuff at the gift store and keep it. But I am sure we will have similar days as she gets older. I am sure all moms do! I guess my next post should be about how Regan makes me feel like a bad mom. I have to pin the girl down to get her dressed and tell her sternly, "We are going to play with your friends and have fun! Now put your clothes on!"

You inspire me to be a better mom, even when you think you are having a bad day! Love you!

GETyourMOMMYon said...

Just smile and think how wonderful it is that a day like that was his worst. Hopefully, 5 years from now that will still be his worst day ever!