I keep them clean, fed, and socially active. I make sure they go to school, brush their teeth, and I check their homework. I encourage healthy relationships, healthy eating, and teach them not to talk to strangers. But if you caught me at Target the other day, you would have completely judged me.
My children earn dry noodles for positive behavior in a jar they decorated. I have used this system for over a year and it really works. For example, if my son volunteers to set the table (albeit the napkins are off kilter and the knives are on the wrong side), he earns a scoop of noodles. If my daughter gets ready for school before the timer goes off, she earns noodles. Once their jar is full they can select a special reward ranging from $1-$2. This usually consists of ITunes credit or an item from the Dollar Spot at Target.
Both kids had filled their jars on the same day. A miracle really! I took them to Target to select their goodie. My son opted for a milk box from Starbucks (fine or….too much sugar?!), but my daughter wanted a coloring book or new pair of Elsa socks. I had told them that we had to get through the shopping experience before they were able to enjoy their reward. Well, maybe it was my fault for selecting the hideously gigantic 4-person cart. Or maybe it was that the kids were tired? Regardless, they started fighting when I strapped them into the cart, and this didn’t stop. After some stern talking I finally deserted the “limo-of-carts” and carried our few items by hand to the check-out station. Once in line I warned them that they would have to earn back their reward at this point as Mommy was disappointed in their behavior. My son pulled it together. He ignored his sister’s antics and was proper and quiet just to get that sugary milk! Unfortunately for my daughter she continued to hit her brother, scream, and lost her reward. I paid quickly and we went to get my son his much deserved milk. But my daughter decided not to join.
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She ran. She ran fast and she wasn’t looking back. Leave the 5-year-old or let the 3-year-old free in Target? Hmmm….decisions! I chased the baby. I chased her through women’s bikinis (yes, bikinis are already out!), through kids’ shoes, through the Dollar Spot, and through accessories. Luckily a woman pulled her cart through an aisle like she was on fire, and my daughter was stopped in her tracks. I snagged the diva and ran back to Starbucks. My son had some cash and paid for his milk and returned my change. While struggling with a screaming child, carrying bags of groceries, and keeping a kindergartner in vision, I realized I looked like a frazzled mess.
So, am I a bad mom for not allowing my daughter her reward? Am I a bad mom for allowing my son who redeemed himself a reward in front of his sister? I truly don’t know. What I do know is that I felt judged. Some of you might be judging me now. But I am okay with that. I know I did what felt right at the time. Now, maybe I could have handled it differently. Sure. In retrospect there are a lot of things I would do differently when it comes to my family.
I do know one thing, if I ever see a mom or dad chasing after a kid in Target, I am going to help stop that kid in his or her tracks!