Sometimes, you spend days planning on doing something at a specific date then you wake up on the appointed day and everything is all wrong.
Today was reserved for shoe shopping. Shoes, for Sam’s graduation. She wanted to see a movie too. I wasn’t too hot about the movie part because we’ve been having a bad run with movies lately. One bad movie after another beginning with The Spirit that I really wished got spirited into oblivion before it hit the local screens. But with or without the movie, we were going out today.
Then, Alex woke up with a bad cold. Two hours later, the cold turned into a fever. Both house helpers were out and I told Sam I couldn’t leave Alex by herself. I suggested she and her father go shoe shopping together and that was when she started throwing tantrums. Alex, on the other hand, as she always is when she’s sick, didn’t want me out of her sight. She started whining.
So, what was I to do? Sam needed new dress shoes. From Monday to Friday, she’ll be having rehearsals from 8.00 a.m. until 6.00 p.m. and there’s no way we can still manage to go out to buy shoes after she comes home from school.
But what about Alex? You don’t leave a sick kid alone in the house. That’s stupid.
Had this happened four or five years ago, I would have insisted right there and then that someone make some sacrifice. But I’ve learned. Never push an issue when people are upset. So what did I do?
Fortunately, the house helpers arrived a little after noon. Good. That meant Alex didn’t have to left alone in the house. But I still didn’t want to be away for too long. A couple of hours while she napped was okay but no longer. Definitely no movie. Just the shoes and a quick trip to the grocery and that’s it.
I went down to the kitchen and started cooking lunch. Never mind that Sunday is Speedy’s turn to cook day. I had a game plan and I hoped it would work.
I decided that lunch would be fish ‘n’ chips and a nice soup. Alex loves fries and Sam likes soup with every meal. But I’d make everything super special. The fish was cooked a la tempura with super light and crisp coating. Instead of tartar sauce, I asked Speedy to mix mayo and ketchup. Comfort food. Kids’ food.
By lunch time, everyone had calmed down. Alex was feeling a little better. I asked her if she felt okay enough so we could go out and buy Sam’s shoes. And she said yes. Great. I was halfway done. When Sam raised the movie issue, I said we couldn’t. Just the shoes, no movie. I wanted to shout Hellelujah! when she didn’t raise hell. Instead, she asked if we could pass by Astrovision to buy some DVDs. I said yes. Problem solved.
An hour later, we were on our way to the mall. Sam was happy with her new Hush Puppies and a copy of The Grudge. Some three hours later, we were back home. Alex was feeling a bit better but to make it up to her I said we could sleep in the Blue Room tonight, she and I.
What’s my point? When things go wrong and kids start throwing tantrums, it isn’t smart to get upset and start having a tantrum yourself. Most parents start asserting their authority by raising their voices and saying, “Don’t you use that tone with me” or “Don’t you dare slam the door” or “Don’t you walk out when I’m talking to you.” That’s feeding the flames. Keep your distance and give them time to let off some steam. Everyone gets upset. Children get upset and they are entitled to express their anger and frustration. Let them. Then, set the perfect stage to get everything right. Perhaps, a great lunch. Perhaps, some other thing. In my case, the moment I got them to sit down to lunch together, I knew I already had the upper hand. The rest was a matter of negotiation. The result? A win-win situation for everyone.