Saturday morning found Kaia and I having our usual debate about whether or not she would come to the grocery store with me. I swear, by the way she reacts whenever I ask, “Are you going to come to the grocery store with me?” you would think that “Grocery Store” was the euphemism that we use whenever we are secretly taking her for shots or something.
You may be wondering why I am so desperate to take a 4-year-old out to the grocery store, especially a 4-year-old who has been known to publically embarrass us on one or two occasions. There are several answers to that, the first being that the drive to the store takes over 30 minutes (Jakarta is a huge city, and yes, I drive to the other side of town to shop at the grocery store that is geared towards expats. Whatever. I like my fancy olive oil and my gourmet cheese, deal with it.) and is rendered painfully boring due to my cursed inability to read in vehicles without feeling the urge to vomit within minutes.
The second reason is that Jabiz gets up with the kids on Saturday mornings, and I swear that even farmers don’t wake up as early as our kids. Seriously, there are few things worse than dragging yourself out of bed before the sun has even thought about coming up on a WEEKEND. I have to yank my kids out of bed kicking and screaming (literally) during the week, but on the two days when they can actually sleep as late as they want to, they decide that complete darkness is the new morning sunlight. Anyway, when Kaia comes to the grocery store with me, Jabiz is able to go back to bed for a bit while Skye takes her nap. If Kaia doesn’t come with me…well, let’s just say that there is no napping to be had, no matter how many times you explain that Daddy is reeeeeeeeeeeeally tired and just needs half an hour of quiet time to get some sleep, for the love of god. No matter how many times you BEG for her to just go in the playroom and color for a little while. No mater how many times you threaten to take away her afternoon treat if she doesn’t. None of this matters, because you will still (STILL!) be woken up by requests for juice, or to find the scissors, or to go upstairs and help her get something out of her closet….I'm serious, the list of requests is endless. End. Less.
Lastly, I feel a strong, compulsive need to expose my kids to the mundane, everyday things that they would be exposed to if we lived in the US, even though we live overseas. I don’t want them to grow up never having been to the grocery store, or not realizing that mommies and daddies cook, or not knowing how to make a bed. I admit that this thinking is probably brought on by the Midwest girl that still lives inside me, but I run my own errands, and gosh darn it, my kids will, too!
Anyway, I want her to come shopping with me, yadda yadda yadda, and as a result, I have resorted to bribing her to come. I am not proud of that fact, but a few innocent weeks of my request for companionship followed by, “We can stop at the bookstore after!” and “Hey- afterward, we can go and get some hot chocolate!” have come back to bite me, because my precious daughter is very, very smart and has therefore figured out that saying yes to me straight away is counterproductive, as it does not result in her coming home with a belly full of chocolate or a bag with a new book in it.
Last Saturday was no different, as our après-grocery expedition ended (yet again) at the bookstore. Now, I love going to the bookstore. I REALLY, REALLY love going to the bookstore. I love taking my kids to the bookstore and watching them look at books and choose which ones they find appealing. I am one of those people who believes that buying your kids as many books as your bank account comfortably allows is not spoiling them (and living overseas, we don’t have neighborhood public libraries. If we did, I might feel differently about purchasing so many books for the kids. However, we don’t, so off to the bookstore we go!), but enriching them. Up until recently, Kaia has been pretty good about choosing books that I think are both beautiful and educational. She has also been pretty good about being influenced by MY opinion of what is beautiful and educational!
However, the past few times we’ve gone to the bookstore have ended with conversations such as the following:
Me: OK, Kaia, you can pick one book that you want to get. Aaaaaaaaaany book you want! (Steering her towards the chapter books and artistically illustrated section)
Kaia: I want this Disney princess book.
Me: Disney Princess? Really? Wouldn’t you rather have this one? It’s about a girl named Pinkalicious, who is teased for liking pink, but she stands up for herself, anyway, and doesn’t care what the other kids say. Doesn’t THAT sound like a good book?
Kaia: No, I want the Disney Princess book.
Me: But you love pink, too! And this one teaches you a really, really good lesson about being your own person and not caring what other kids say.
Kaia: That’s nice, but I want the Disney princess book.
Me: OK…this one is about some kids who travel all over the world and learn about new things. Doesn’t that sound interesting?
Kaia: No, the Disney princess book sounds interesting.
Me: Well, what if you could get the Pinkalicious book AND the book about the traveling kids?
Kaia: Can I get the Disney princess book, too?
Me: Well, no.
Kaia: Then I just want the Disney princess book.
This is when I realize that encouraging my kids to figure out what they like and pick out their own stuff kind of sucks. Not that there is anything (much) wrong with her Disney princess obsession, though I admit that I am not thrilled about it. I’d just like to limit it to costumes and dolls and leave it out of our literature selection.
But I had a choice to make- I could stand there and keep trying to convince her that what she wanted was wrong and do god-only-knows-what damage to her fragile self-esteem, or I could give in and buy the damn princess book. After all, I’d told her that she could get any book that she picked out, NOT any book that she picked out, pending my approval.
So what did I do? I’m not going to lie to you all- I bought the princess book AND Pinkalicious. I couldn’t help it. I will try and let my kids develop their own preferences, but I will also continue to subtly try and exude a little, tiny bit of influence over them. I’m their mother, after all- that’s what I’m here for!
What are some things that YOUR kids like that drive you crazy?