Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shoe Store Drama

I had a parenting fail the other day. It wasn't a fail of epic proportion but it was a mistake.  Here is the scenario...

#2 needed new shoes for school.  #1 did not need new shoes for school.  When we left the house everyone in the van knew that only one child would be getting shoes.  This was not an issue or problem.  #1 never even mentioned that he wanted to get shoes or that if his brother is getting shoes he should get some as well.

When we enter the store we are all on the same mission and that lasted all of about 30 seconds.  I don't even have #2's old shoes off and #1 starts bringing me the shoes that he wants to try on.  At first I gingerly respond, "Those are cool but you don't need shoes right now.  Put them back please."  He complains but he does obey.  Temporarily. 

"But,  Mmooommmm.  I do need new shoes.  Look, these hurt."  A little less gingerly I tell him that his other pair still fits fine and that we can come back to this store when it is time to get his new shoes.  Instead of backing off, he picks up the pace.  He is going on and on about how his feet hurt, his other shoes aren't fast, how I am not fair and he wants new shoes for the first day of school too. 

So.  There I am in the middle of Sketchers with one child throwing a fit while I am trying to work with the sales person to find a shoe for my other child.  Lovely.  I am irritated and angry, but I am also rolling around some of the things that #1 said in my head.  Am I being unfair?

It is true that he doesn't physically need shoes but does he emotionally need shoes?  I don't want his first day of school to be horrible all because he doesn't feel confident about his shoes.  Shoes are a big deal to little boys.  Maybe I am wrong to not get them?  I don't want him to think that I love his brother more.  What should I do?  He looks so hurt.  Geez. 

I bought the shoes.  Yup.  I did.  I told him that I wanted him to have a great first day and if the shoes would help then I would get them.  It didn't feel right.  I was pretty sure it wasn't the best choice.   I decided that in the future we would all get shoes at the same time. My solution to this problem was going to be avoiding it because I was sure that I was definitely over shoe store drama.  Ugh.

There is one problem with this solution.  I can't avoid it.  Inevitably at some point one of my children is going to get something and the other will not.  This time it was shoes, but next time it might be clothes, a play date and of course birthdays.  I was in trouble.  Avoidance was not going to work.  

I wasn't sure what to do about this.  Then last night while waiting for my hair to process at the salon I was reading Siblings Without Rivalry and this quote hit me right between the eyes.  "Children don't need to be treated equally.  They need to be treated uniquely."  Whoa.  That was it.  That is what I need to hear.  It is ok to not be "fair".

Chapter 4 went on to explain some great ideas on how to love your children uniquely rather than equally.  The book even gave me sample dialogs to use when the situation comes up next.  I love that.  I will need a script until this thought process becomes natural to me.  Because truefully it is not natural.  My instinct is to be fair.  I will have to learn to be unique.

If you have multiple children you should check this out:  Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber.  It is worth your time.

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