Alexander is rapidly approaching four years old. Where those four years have gone, I'm not entirely sure but he'll be four in March. With his "advancing age," it makes it harder and harder, if not impossible, to go to a store, cafe, or drive-thru and buy something for myself, whilst excluding him--and it's not fair to him, either. So yesterday morning, I did something I generally try my best to avoid--I took both kids grocery shopping with me. Now some will say that was my first mistake, and generally, I would agree. But there are times when it just can't be helped and with me they must come.
I began by trying to give Alex a rundown of our outing...giving him a heads up as to what we would be doing, how long we'd be gone etc... "Alexander, our first stop will be for coffee." Alex knows, like rest of you, that mommy is a coffee fiend. He also knows that coffee means Starbucks and Starbucks means treats. He's a smart boy, what can I say. So when he asked me, "Mama, can I have a treat at coffee too, please?!" it melted my heart. He asked so nicely, even used the word "please," what could I say but yes?! Off to Fred Meyer we trek, stopping first for a shopping cart, which broke his heart when we could not take the "race car" cart because the straps were broken and there was no way to strap Anna into the cart. Heartbreak number one.
We continue our trek to the Starbucks inside Fred Meyer. Having worked for a Starbucks corporate store for nearly two years, I'm generally not a fan of the franchise stores. They're OK in a pinch but I don't find them as reliable as my local cafe. But today was a special day and some coffee was most certainly better than no coffee and with two kids in tow, a compromise was in order. Alex knows that his normal choices are a chocolate milk, a mini cookie, or mini scone. Today, he wanted a mini-cookie. As we approach the pastry case, Alex immediately notices, "Mama, there are no cookies!!" Sigh, he is correct. There are nothing but whole pieces of coffee cake, large scones, and biscotti--none of which qualify for Alex's special treat. So I ask him, "Alex are you sure you don't want a chocolate milk?" Nope, no go. He is set on a mini-cookie. Heartbreak number two.
As I begin ordering my grande, two-pump, white mocha, Americano with room, the negotiations for Alex's treat continue. We talk a little bit in line, waiting for my coffee, about other choices he might have for a treat. We settle on getting him and individual yogurt while we are grocery shopping. Mind you, I am not talking about the $3.95 yogurt parfait from Starbucks. I am instead talking about the .79 cent individual yogurts found in the dairy case of your local supermarket. This we agreed, would be the "perfect" treat for Alex this morning. And for two nano-seconds, I begin patting myself on the back, thinking, "yogurt is far superior to a cookie anyways--Yeah mom!"
Alas, anyone who has tried to shop with a 3.5 year old and a 16 month old can tell you, it's rough stuff. Anna, who much like her mommy, has a habit of demanding to be HEARD already, has started to get fidgety in her seat. We have not even started the actual grocery shopping yet. So my brain begins to race, just a little bit, thinking, OK, let's get this done already! Instead of heading directly to the dairy case, which is of course, is on the other side of the store, I begin in the produce department. Heartbreak number three for Alex, who just really, really wants his yogurt and is doing his best to wait for it.
After the potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and onion have been procured, it's on to the middle isles of the supermarket--again, if mommy had not been distracted by said children and if my brain had already not started racing, I would have chosen differently. Instead, we find ourselves having wandered down the cereal isle. What on God's green earth persuaded me to venture into shark infested waters, I'm still not quite sure. Cereal is Alex's golden food. It is his, "nectar from the gods." There is no other food on earth he would rather eat than cereal. Anytime of day, night, snack...ever. Cereal is gold. The only thing that could possible make an already golden food shine brighter is the marketing to be found on the outside of a cereal box, which leads him in .2 nano-seconds to spot the golden shining box of, "Toy Story Blueberry Kellogg's Mini-Wheats." This, no doubt, sinks my battleship. At this very moment time stood still. The world fell off it's axis and my son was in-love. In-love with the Buzz Lightyear that was calling his name..."Come on Alexander, To Infinity and Beyond with blueberry mini-wheats." There was nothing, nothing in the world that would now stand between Alex and his Buzz. No yogurt, cookie, book, sticker, BMW would have persuaded him to give up that box of cereal.
Now, being the intelligent mommy I like to think I am, I offer Alex the box of cereal IF he is good for the rest of the shopping trip. Mind you, I am hoping beyond all hope that he will instead forget about it by the end of the trip...and I must say, he is an angel for the next 35 minutes of shopping. As we proceed to the checkout, he reminds me, "mama, don't forget my Toy Story Cereal!!" Yes, son, yes, how could I forget? Damn it! And we find ourselves once again in shark infested waters, this time, placing the box of beloved cereal in our cart for purchase. Heartbreak number one for Mommy.
As we drive home, Alex is smitten with his new box of not just cereal, but "Toy Story" cereal. It is special and I get that. Upon arriving home, getting baby sister down for her much needed nap and putting the groceries away, Alex asks for what would be his first bowl of beloved cereal. It's lunch time and although the good parent in me says to feed him a real lunch first, I again cave to his request. He receives his bowl of cereal, which is devoured in approximately 2 minutes--from start to finish. Upon finishing, he of course begs, borrows and pleads for more. This time, mommy wins. There is no second round of cereal for lunch.
Fast forward to about 4pm on Tuesday. I am gone, our babysitter, Caleb is here watching the kids while I run some much needed errands before going to tutor...when my cell phone rings. It's Caleb, who is having a hard time convincing Alexander that "Toy Story" cereal isn't dinner. Caleb hands the phone to Alex, who promptly wastes no time in asking, "Mommy, can I have Toy Story cereal for dinner?!" No, no, you can't have cereal for dinner! Good grief, what have I created here? It is at this very moment that I begin to understand that by giving into my loving, sweet, well-behaved son at the grocery store this morning, I have a created a monster for this evening. I explain to him that there are two choices for dinner...chicken nuggets or leftover meatloaf. Cereal, is not on the menu. Alex begins to fuss and whine and scream on the phone, at which point, Caleb comes back on. Our babysitter is a bright guy--he knows the deal and reiterates to Alexander, chicken nuggets or meatloaf. No cereal. Disaster is averted, as Caleb makes the choice for Alex, chicken nuggets, and leaves them on the table for Alex to decide to eat. Heartbreak number four for Alex.
It's now 7:30pm when Rodney and I arrive home. Rod from work and me from tutoring. And of course, what is the first thing out of Alex's mouth...."I want Toy Story cereal!!" Sigh. Heartbreak number two for mommy. Rodney and I convince Alex that he has had enough cereal for one day but that he can have another bowl when he wakes up in the morning. Let me repeat, "Alexander may have another bowl when he wakes up in the morning." One more time, just in case you didn't get it..."Alexander may have another bowl when he wakes up in the morning."
Fast forward to 6:20am this morning. Yes, I said six-twenty AM this morning! Yesterday's dear, sweet, well-behaved boy has become this morning's, woke up way too early, over-tired, whining and screaming for "Toy Story" cereal demon. Are you kidding me?! NO! No, I'm not kidding. Alexander tantrums from 6:20am, which includes kicking, screaming, whining, crying and begging for "Toy Story" cereal. It becomes so bad, we decide that rather than locking him back in his own room, we would lock him out of our room. This is only marginally more successful. Finally, at 7am, Rodney graciously decides to get up and go downstairs with Alexander. After trying for several minutes to calm him down and stop the tantrum, which is not working. I come downstairs and promptly put said demonic "Toy Story" cereal in the trash, come back inside and make oatmeal. Alexander heartbreak number four. Mommy win number two.
Not that I'm keeping score but the moral of this story is to say no at the beginning. Having had the will-power to have said "no" in the beginning, perhaps my morning from Hell could have been averted. But then again, maybe not. It's more likely that this is just one of the many such experiences that I will look back upon with great humor. I'm already smirking as I write this evening. Character building, right? Yup, for both of us. My dear, sweet, loving little boy is back this afternoon, after school, lunch, a nap and dinner, he is currently chasing his little sister around the house and "dancing." It is quite the sight and only endears him more to me. I love my little guy. Heartbreak number three for mommy. As for the marketing department at Kellogg's and Disney...