September 26, 2007

Card Declined. State of Mind.

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.



Hunny Bee May said...

Little boys can be surprising can't they? My son is very similar in temperament though he tends to be a repeat offender in certain areas. There's no avoiding bad days. Spit happens. Sounds like what Ezra needs is a mommy and daddy who know him well and anticipate what his needs are and then do their very best to meet them. And that's what he's got. Lucky him! I don't know if this helps, but here's to wishing you a good tonight and a better tomorrow! God bless :)

jessica said...

wow, that's incredible! I certainly would not expect a little boy to be so sensitive! That's a really hard one! I'm curious to see what others have to say!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that my husband was very tender-hearted and eager to please as a child, and he is still that way, and it's absolutely a wonderful, precious, and still somehow MANLY trait in a man. I hope my little boy is the same way. Cherish it!

Anna Joy Photography said...

okay that is seriously THEE CUTEST THING EVER that he says when you go over a bump in the road!!!! And no I don't have or know any children like him, what a cutie pie pants though. Taylor must have been like him when he was a little one to turn out how he did, so I'm pretty sure the way Ezra's acting is nothing but GOOD NEWS.

sufferingsummer said...

One of my three nephews is just like this and his Mama has dealt with him in a very similar way to how you described dealing with Ezra. He is now 5 and one of the most thoughtful, caring and empathetic children I have ever met. I think making sure he is always constantly understanding it is the behavior that upset you and not him is the key and it sounds like that is what you do. I think this is a rare and very special trait in a boy and you are extremely blessed to have such a child.
I think you know your child best and don't have any reason to second guess how you teach him, from where I'm standing I wish all parents could be as in tune and caring towards the particular disposition of their child as it is clear you are.
Good job, keep it up!

Kimberly said...

What a fabulous post! So glad you joined the Buzz so I could find my way over here. I have girls, but a friend of mine that has three boys swears by the book "Bringing up Boys". She paraphrased a fair bit of the book for me, and I think it might give you some awesome insights.

My three year old just recently started the crumple faced reaction to discipline. "You make me sad Mama!", she wails. She's far too michievous to learn the first time, or even the twenty-first. I'm not going to accuse you of being lucky though. It's a struggle dealing with any extreme of behaviour.

Andrea June said...

Oh, how SWEET! It's amazing to hear how much he talks now when not so long ago, you were concerned that he wasn't talking ENOUGH.
I wish I had a little guy around to tell me it's o.k. when I'm sad. Where can I get an Ezzie doll of my own?

Misguided Mommy said...

wow you are lucky. when i tell brandon no he thinks that means either hurry up and do it again, or do it 5-10 more times to see if mom will really get her fat pregnant butt up off her lazy bum and put him in time out. then i put him in time out, which he can crawl out of, and he does, sooo thats not effective anymore. and the one time i tried to stick him in his room for time out i had to call the shampoo company to clean up the 1.5 foot around circle of vomit he spewed from crying.

it's safe to say my kid runs my life! i think your a lucky duck!

Tawny said...

My son, Jonah, is and has always been the same that you describe Ezra. They are such special gifts and well... they're just unique children. He is learning to man up on his own as he is getting older. Honestly, he is so sensitive that if I have one off day he enquires gently, "Mom, do I need to be patient? Is this that PMS I learned about?" Good G-d. Talk about burry me in my own emberassment.

No worries! Life will man him up. You are doing perfect by just being the unique person, artisit, mother and all that makes you... YOU~!

Oh, The Joys said...

I have no words of wisdom. My boy throws a full on raging tantrum every day.

Coral said...

Love the post! Cuteness to the nth degree. I have no wisdom as to your question of us but my brother is a sweet boy and cares for everyone. It's a nice thing to have.


Anna Peterson said...

I know I wasn't a little boy, but that sounds a little like I was. There's a story from when I was little, where I was going to get a spanking and I stopped my dad and said, "But Daddy, you can't spank me because I'm sorry now." =) Your little boy sounds so sweet!

Megan/ Velveteen Mind said...

I've already stated on your cre8buzz profile that I have a mom crush on you. It's full on now. You are just going to have to deal.

I have two toddler boys and they are a lot like Ezra, particularly my older son, at 3. He rarely needs to be disciplined and shows confusion and almost open disdain for misbehaving children in public, but he's also pretty damn cool about it. I hesitate to call him sensitive, but rather thoughtful.

I'm cheesing myself out here.

If I can raise my sons to be thoughtful and considerate, I will consider my job well done. If that means that they are empathetic to other's moods and take that in a bit, then so be it.

But I still want them to be able to kick ass when necessary. ;)

Elizabeth said...

I was like that as a little girl. Having someone be mad at me was MUCH worse than a spanking or no t.v. time. In fact, I can can't on my hand the number of times I got a spanking whereas my cousin probably lost count by 8. (btw, not condoning spanking it's just what was done in my family)

I think that as long as you assure him that HE is a good boy, he just did something that was unacceptable he'll be okay. I still hate making people upset, and I went through people-pleasing phase when I was in junior high but I also had a supportive family that told me to stand up for myself, that I had many talents and abilities and who never "you are bad" just "what you did was wrong" and I think there is a big difference!

I love that he asks if everyone was ok after a bump in the road, that is heart-melting.

btw, this is purplepolkadot from cre8bzz, thanks for stopping by my profile and adding me as a friend. :)

Secret Agent Mama said...

Ezra sounds just like my first born (a boy, too). Mikey, like Ezra, was always (and still is) very repentive , kind hearted, and genuine...from toddlerhood. He's nine years old now and just one of the best kids I know (and that's not because he's mine, he just is).

You're doing great and he's a reflection of that!

Amy said...

Ezra is beautiful!! (You knew that probably...) My older boy (5 yrs) is generally of the rough and tumble sort, but is much more sensitive than my daughter ever was to a stern voice or a sense of my being angry with him. I think it's a good thing in a boy...

Kelly said...

Hey Emery! I love your interpretation of Ezra! Aren't kids so different that you thought they would be? Just remember that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. He will probably battle with being a people pleaser his whole life. But what a blessing to see it now that he just needs to be taught that we must please God first and foremost, and that God is the one that really matters. I think he is just like the two of you... I see the same traits in Niah. I struggled with being a people pleaser as a teenager, and I know that she will also. Olivia on the other hand... you tell her to do something, and she says, "no"... then gives you a look that says: "so, what 'cha going to do about it?" But in the same way, her strength of personality will be her greatest strength, as well as her greatest weakness. In the end, it's all clear:
God is so Good!!!