At my recent conference with Michael’s preschool teacher, she told me something interesting. She said that she and his other teacher refer to him as “Osmosis Boy,” meaning that he never looks like he’s paying any attention, but somehow, everything seems to sink in. At first I thought this was probably a pretty accurate description of him. But the more I thought of it, I was not so sure.
Sometimes I think he is just NOT paying attention…at all. If indeed the osmosis process was occurring, I surely wouldn’t be beating my head against the wall multiple times a day over his behavior. You would think that saying, “Please don’t color on things that aren’t paper,” five million times would sink in. Or that setting parameters for behavior before we go someplace would take just ONE of these times. I remember when Grace was little, my husband and I took a Love and Logic parenting course that all but promised us that if we were consistent in our expectations, our kids would catch on. I guess they never said how long we needed to be consistent for. Apparently three-and-a-half years isn’t quite long enough.
Case in point: a recent visit to the grocery store.
Michael and I ran up to the grocery store the other day to pick up some flowers for my mom. She recently had a pretty bad accident where she passed out, fell, and fractured her neck, resulting in a contusion on her spinal cord. After fear that she was paralyzed, she thankfully began regaining feeling in her limbs. However, she still has a long road ahead of her to a full recovery. After having neck surgery last week, she is now focusing on intensive rehab to get her back on her feet. It has been a scary situation for my family, but we are counting our blessings as things could have been a lot worse.
So right after the accident occurred, we ran in to get some flowers on the way to the hospital. That is all we had a to get…flowers. A five-minute endeavor. I even explained to Michael that this would be a quick little trip, and that he could help me pick out which flowers to get for “Mimi.” He asked if he could get a cookie (our grocery store lets kids pick out one from the bakery for free), and I told him if he was a good helper, he could get one. Sounds good. Parameters set. Let’s get some flowers.
We were doomed from the moment we entered the store. Of course, like any red-blooded child, Michael wanted to ride in one of the baskets with the car attached to the front. I explained that we didn’t need a basket since we were only getting flowers, but we would use one next time. I really did not want to push that giant, awkward, impossibe-to-maneuver cart around if I didn’t have to. So that STARTED the tantrum. I almost gave in but told myself I needed to stick to my guns. Love and logic, Kelly…love and logic.
The tantrum continued into the florist section, where Michael refused to help me pick out flowers and instead began punching the mylar balloons that were attached to various arrangements. Awesome. Keep your cool, Kelly. The florist kindly asked me if I needed any help, to which I replied, “Yeah, you want to take my son?” She quickly and wisely said no, saying she has already been there, done that. At least I was getting some sympathy.
Then Michael had the audacity to demand we go and get that free cookie. Oh really?
“Only good helpers get cookies. I’m sorry to say you can’t get a cookie today.”
Well that did it. It was the three-and-a-half year old apocalypse. There was screaming. There was thrashing. And there was storming off…in the direction of the bakery. “That little…”
I grabbed some flowers and took off after my now sprinting son. I managed to head him off at the bakery, but not before he grabbed onto my legs and almost unintentionally tackled me to the ground. I’m pretty sure this was the most embarrassed I have ever been in public. I picked him up and carried him through the store, with him screaming at the top of his lungs. Unfortunately, it seemed to be “senior citizens who either never had children or forgot what it was like to have children” day at the grocery store, because the number of horrified stares and wrinkly, furrowed brows I caught a glimpse of was too many to count. Where were all the other moms who could at least give me that look of defeated solidarity so I didn’t feel like such a complete and utter failure? I probably should have abandoned the flowers altogether and just left, but by then I was determined that this child was not going to put me through this for nothing. So I fumbled through the self-checkout and walked out, with a wailing, angry shadow behind me.
So much for osmosis. My child just does NOT get it.
But then I think of the reason we were getting flowers in the first place. The night before, I told both my kids about my mom’s accident. As I was putting Michael to bed, we said a prayer for her, and I told him we would go visit her at the hospital the next day. He looked at me and asked, “Is Mimi sick?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Can we go get Mimi some flowers? I think she’ll like pink.”
“I think that would be a great idea, Buddy. We’ll go get her some flowers.”
Oh, the irony. But I guess maybe some things do sink in.