Monday, January 16, 2012

A Teaching Moment

We are moving along, day after day, routine after routine.  But every now and then there’s the chance for a teaching moment.  We had one of those days yesterday.

Just about every Sunday, Puppy and I wake up, him before me of course, and usually around 7:00 a.m.  We have breakfast, I may or may not do a load or two of laundry, watch a little T.V., then sometime in the afternoon we head over to my parents’ home for a few hours.

So it was about that time and we jumped in the truck headed out to see my parents.  I remember that the night before there weren’t any sodas, so I stopped at the convenient store to buy some.  It was going to be a bit of a challenge because Puppy likes to look at the small section of toys, cell phone pockets, bracelets, etc.  Guess what?  This section also has wallets!  We’ve done good before to enter, look but not touch, buy what we went in for, and leave with no tantrums, at least twice before.  And I’m so proud of Puppy for having such an achievement.

I suppose you know where I’m going with this story.  Today was not one of those days.  I allowed him to look, but this time he just could not make himself walk away.  He started giving me scenarios of how he would buy a wallet, leave it at home, not take it out of his pocket, etc.  I said no so many times, and even directed him to come help me carry a 12-pak of sodas to the cashier, but I lost this time.  He did not have an actual tantrum, but I learned that if I tell him the behavior he is displaying is the start of a tantrum, he stops to think of what he did and I get to take him step by step through the event.  It was not going in my favor so I decided to put the sodas back on the display and told him we were leaving.  Once in the truck I explained to him how we will not come back to this store if he cannot listen to my instructions. 

I was disappointed that this trip to the store was a failure.  In my mind I needed to use this experience to his and my benefit.  I took a chance and turned to return home.  He was confused, asking where we were going.  When I said home, he asked why not to grandma and grandpas?  I said that if he could not follow instructions at a store, he was not going to listen at anyplace we went, so we were going back home.  He definitely wasn’t happy about that, but neither was I at that point.  We got home, went inside and I sat on the sofa.  He apologized several times and asked to leave again and again.  I explained that he was not focusing on what I was telling him in the store so we had to leave.  That it is not good behavior to speak loudly and not listen to mom.  We went over several different moments of our trip to the store, reminding him how he said this and that, and how I answered his questions, and how we did not have a good trip to the store because he was starting to have a tantrum.

Puppy paced back and forth a while.  Then he came to sit at my side.  He told me how he was sorry and that he promised if we went to grandma’s he would behave and listen to mom.  I told him to let me think about it because I wasn’t sure he was ready.  Of course he reassured he was. 

I let about 15 minutes go by, mostly in silence as I watched him pace again, a little bit nervous. He was probably nervous that this episode was going to get back to his teacher.  I sat him down and we went over the rules of behavior one more time, like many times before.  Puppy and I were ready to go out with hopefully, better results.

Puppy turned to look at me as we drove passed the convenient store.  I just said we’re not going back to that store for a while.  I sort of thought it might be cruel of me to take him where wallets are at arm’s length and not let him touch, yes, even to see if he could do it, it may have been to soon.   We did stop at another store closer to my parents’ house.  We went over the rules before entering the store.  We were set…ready, go!  We had success!!  Puppy followed me in and straight to the sodas, helped me carry the 12-pak, I paid, and we were off to my parents’ with grins from ear-to-ear.  I praised his wonderful behavior in the store and the way he listened to mom.  He smiled that smile where his eyes turn to small because his cheeks are so full of happy.  We did it! We did it! (Mom sighs).