In the movie Tangled, is a horse named Maximus. The animal may have four legs, but his behavior matches my youngest child to a tee. Just as Maximus allows others to ride him when he feels like it, my strong-willed son allows me to be mommy when it suits him. As you can guess, it’s pretty easy to find myself at odds with him, often at the worst, and most public of times.
This week’s meltdown happened in the grocery store. While checking out, my son kept putting his face near the bagging turnstile, delaying the cashier in her efforts to move us through the line efficiently. Repeatedly, I said, “Please, step back. You’re going to get hit.” About the fifth time, I didn’t bother with words. I physically moved him out of the way.
“Mommy’s a stupid head,” he said, wrenching his arm from my grasp. And there you go, I’d reached my limit for the day. This mommy didn’t want to play anymore.
If you’re wondering where he would learn such words, just watch Lilo &Stich, a Disney cartoon. Besides being stubborn, my son also makes a great parrot.
I compressed my lips together, dredging up my last ounce of patience. “Your candy, is mine.”
You see, I have a rule when I grocery shop with children, if they’re good and stay with me, they can pick out a piece of candy at checkout. Up to that point, he had done pretty well, but that little mouth of his just blew the “good” part of the rule.
Most children would tear up here, he didn’t. “I want my candy,” he demanded. Since I don’t keep sweets in my house, this was a bribe he dearly liked.
In the middle of the store, my “no” set off a firestorm of screaming that I dare say rivaled most horror flicks. With a strained, embarrassed smile for the masses looking on, I sighed and thought to myself, “Yep, this one’s mine.”
That night, before bed, after enduring the delightful forty-minute tantrum and stripping him of every blanket and toy he held dear, I knelt with him while he prayed. Mind you, I don’t prompt what he says. Mister independent has to do everything by himself.
“Heavenly Father, I sorry I naughty. Mommy not a stupid—I mean—that word. Please, I be good, so she love me again…” Distracted by my welling tears and sniffles the rest of his prayer eluded me.
Yes, my youngest son is a challenge I sometimes wonder if I’ll survive, but inside his obstinate exterior is a special boy. Whose strength of character, with a little—okay, a lot of temperance, will make a great leader. How can I possibly know that, you ask? Because, “This one’s mine,” and he’s even more stubborn than I was at that age.