Today I went to the grocery store to grab a few things, which quickly turned into a few more things (minus of course the ONE THING I needed more than anything else), but when I finally got to the check out, my card was rejected. We'd forgotten to transfer money from Chris' business account to our checking account. Again.
I started to sweat. I grabbed the only other source of money that I had, a card that I knew didn't have more than $50 on it, even though the groceries were up around the $90 range. I prayed that the card would just go through so that I could grab my stuff and get out of the store- possibly never to return due to my level of embarrassment. Ezra was FREAKING out in the cart because he wanted a "new car" (damn those people who decided to hang Matchbox cars right next to the checkout...) and I tried to keep from turning beet red and crying like a little girl as I watched the nice gentleman swipe my second card.
I thought that the look on his face said 'This card didn't work either', so I started to ask if we could split the cost in half and try running one half on each card? He was very kind and said we could try that, to the horror of the line forming behind me. That's when I realized that it HAD gone through on my second card, so I told him that was fine and signed the receipt and fled the store as quickly as I could.
Ezra was BAWLING his face off by now because NO, he did not get his new car. I had told him prior to going into the store that if he was a good boy for mommy, if he didn't whine or stand up in the cart or disobey me, then he could get a Happy Meal when we were all done shopping (so sue me), but that there would be no "new car" today. He was most definitely NOT listening or obeying me in the store, so I told him his behavior had decided that we would NOT be getting a Happy Meal after all. I was somewhat relieved about this, because as it turns out, I didn't have a way to pay for the Happy Meal anyways.
I called Chris. We started the whole blame-game thing. I got angry and hung up.
I drove Ezra straight home. He cried the whole way. I'm learning that my son is unique in the fact that he doesn't get upset over the consequences of his behavior so much as he gets upset at me being unhappy with him. He wasn't crying the whole way home because he wasn't going to get a Happy meal, he was crying the whole way home because he knew I was not happy with the way he'd acted.
This behavior in Ezra is pretty amazing because it makes for a really well behaved child... he loves to please Chris and I or anyone else who is watching him. It is VERY rare that we have to really discipline him or set up consequences for his actions like I did today at the store. He is super-duper sensitive and will sometimes suddenly break down and start bawling simply because I tell him "No!" in a firm voice.
While it's nice to have a child that is genuinely obedient and anxious to please, it can also be a challenge. Sometimes when I tell him "No", he will crumple and get this look on his face like I've broken his little heart. Then he immediately runs up to me with his arms open wide and hugs my neck so tightly that I can barely breathe. He cries and slobbers into the nape of my neck and then looks up into my eyes- searching for forgiveness and softness and pleasure.
Perhaps I am wrong here, but I am under the impression that this is not typical toddler boy behavior?
Tell me- HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH A CHILD LIKE THIS? It's hard to know how to discipline a child who becomes INSTANTLY repentant after he's done something he knows he shouldn't have done; Who can crumble emotionally under one small word of correction. It's hard to know how to nurture that strong desire to please that's inside of him without teaching him that he's not okay unless everyone around him is happy and pleased with him.
So, for now, I hug back- just as tightly as he hugs me, and I let him cry for a bit. I look in his wet eyes and I tell him that every thing is fine, mommy loves him very much, but his actions were not acceptable. He sits in timeout for two minutes until I come and re-explain why he was put there, and then I get a big hug and kiss from him before he can get out of his timeout chair. After that, I try to direct him to something fun so that he won't follow me around for the next 20 minutes whimpering and sniffling and looking at me with those potently powerful puppy dog eyes.
When he's disciplined like this, I can be 99.9% sure that he won't repeat the offense ever again. He just gets it after that. It's almost like this kid was pre-programmed with manners and a willing heart. He now says 'Please", and "Thanks!" and "Your welcome!" without any prompting from me. Also, he's picked up "Excuse Me" after he farts or burps (which I swear I never even taught him) and just yesterday he started covering his mouth whenever he coughs- which I am remiss to admit I didn't teach him either. Every single time anyone within his earshot sneezes, he says "Bess You!" and he's extremely sensitive to the emotions of everyone around him. If Chris or I seem even slightly sad to him, he will come up and pat our shoulders while saying "It's Okay, Dada" or "It's Okay Mamma."
If we go over a big bump or something in the car, he will quickly assess that everyone riding in the car survived the jolt okay. "You Okay Dada?! You Okay, Mamma?!", and he will repeat this question over and over and over again until both of us reply, "Yeah, we're okay Ezra! Are you Okay?" to which he'll reply "Yeah... I Okay. That was close!"
I am so grateful for this tender hearted boy. He is constantly surprising me with his generosity and care for others. I am learning that with a boy like this, there is no black and white when it comes to correction or discipline. I have to read every situation separately and try to gage his emotions in order to help me make my point clear to him. This just isn't how I expected it would be when I learned I was having a boy. (To tell the truth, I was relieved to know I was having a boy because I just didn't know how I was going to deal with all the emotions of a little girl.) I was under the impression that boys were just more clear-cut: less emotional, more rough & tumble. Ezra seems to be a hybrid of some sort.
(What a pleasant surprise.)
Have any of you experienced anything like this with your young boys? Or known any little boys who are similar to Ezra in this way? I don't want to encourage his melt-downs, but I don't want to tell him to "Man up, already!" either.