"You should get me some markers." "You should buy me paint for my room." "You should get me some pens to do art. Prismacolor is a good brand, isn't it? You should buy me some of them." "You should get me...You should buy me..."
That is what I heard the other day when I took Mr. I with me to the hardware store. I was trying to get some materials to finish some trim around some doors, and Mr. I was trying to fill a hole in his heart. I was trying to ignore the constant begging chatter and concentrate on getting what I needed. Mr. I was trying to ask for things while I was distracted so that he could later say I promised him something and I'd better get him what he wanted or I'm a liar.
That kind of behavior has always been my pet peeve. I used to think that kids beg in stores because their mom gave in to their demands too many times. I actually was too extreme with my oldest kids. They were afraid to even ask for something like yogurt. They knew if they dared to ask for something, I'd put back whatever was in our basket and leave the store. And though I've learned to loosen up a bit, I still require the kids to ask nicely and not to fuss when I say no.
I used to think it was bad parenting that caused kids to have tantrums in stores, or act out in all sorts of ways. I used to, and still do, wonder what kind of parents are they who see their kids open lipsticks in stores and don't stop their kids from writing all over the displays, or let the kids open and play with toys unsupervised in stores. But since I have started parenting kids with traumatic backgrounds and are affected by drugs and alcohol, I am one of the parents who have the whiney kids. I have learned to quickly get what I need, while a kid, even a teenager, trails behind me saying, "You should get me this, you should get me that."
I have learned that when my child is at that state, has a certain look in his eyes, or is fearful, he or she cannot listen to reason. I have to calm myself, not engage in the drama, and get home as quickly as possible to calm them down. Later we can talk about what was going through their minds when they acted that way. Maybe Mr. I was feeling fearful for his sister because of the police being at our home the day before. Maybe he was too excited about Easter coming in a couple of days. Maybe it was difficult for him to switch from a school schedule to a school break schedule. The kids don't usually know what is triggering that awful feeling inside. Sometimes Mr. I thinks that buying something will make him feel better. But what he needs is not more stuff, but to learn ways to fill that big hurt in his heart.