My husband and I subscribe to and employ some parenting techniques that differ greatly. Namely, I play the bad cop (aka. the role of the structure implementing parent) and my dear darling husband plays the good cop (aka. the role of the by-golly-we-are-having-a-great-time! grandparent). To make matters worse, when I speak with him about this (on multiple occasions) he nods and pretends to listen to me while having absofuckinglutely no intention of making any changes. For an example, and as the topic of today's post, every time my husband takes Thing 1 to the store he comes home with a new trinket. I insist that this is a bad idea for many reasons. To name a few:
a) My grocery budget is so tight that it does not include a trinket every time I buy bread and milk. Sometimes it barely covers the bread and milk.
b) This purchasing of said trinket is likely to disillusion the child into thinking he gets something every time we enter a store, thus causing spoiled rotten child syndrome or what is commonly known as a dreaded public meltdown.
c) It is not fair that child gets a trinket from Dad, but not mean old boring Mom.
d) Purchasing trinkets is clearly a job for the grandparents, who are expected to buy a child's love. These are the people who also sugar them up and then hand them back to mean old boring mom.
The other night we bundled up as a family unit, stuffed ourselves into my too-small-for-carseats vehicle and drove a mile down the road to Super Wal-Mart. (I know what I said. Shut it. The formula is $4 cheaper there.) We picked up some white Christmas lights for the tree (classy-see?) and a few grocery items. To get from the Christmas decorations to the groceries, we had to walk past the toy aisle, of course. If I would have been there alone with the children I would have used every distraction technique in my arsenal to keep Thing 1's attention on anything but the toys. Pointing and shouting, tickling, the card aisle, or a life threatening seizure. Since my husband was with us, not only did he not distract the child, but he actually pointed Thing 1 in the direction of the plastic shelves filled with battery operated fun (we were in Wal-Mart, get your mind out of the gutter) and made the aisles of toys seem like a magical parade of Santa's workshop. He pointed out 576 things that our child will not be receiving from Santa this year and lingered in the aisles like a drug dealer. He hyped up Thing 1 so much that his mouth was in a perma-Ooooooo from the awe of the selection. Then he (my husband, not the toddler) broke a Buzz Lightyear toy and I finally put on my bad cop badge and said sternly "Just take the child and walk away."
Later, while perusing the Wal-Mart meat section, I noticed that Thing 1 was missing his beloved pony flashlight, which he insisted upon bringing with him. (MacGyver is his father, what do you expect?) From there, we split up in search of his precious toy. I began to have doubts about pairing off in a store the size of Super Wal-Mart and started fearing that I might have to spend an unacceptable amount of time looking for my family. Not only did we need to get home and feed our offspring, but the flickering overhead fluorescent lighting makes me look like a tired, haggard stay at home mom (shhh!) and it gives me a migraine. My fears were quickly squelched when I heard my child having a hysterical meltdown at the far end of the store... near the toy aisle, naturally.
I walked around the corner to the scene of Thing 1 lying in a dejected heap in the center of the main aisle, wailing at the top of his lungs. My husband was scurrying towards him with the pony flashlight in his hand, trying to soothe his sobs. Aha! I felt like this was my moment to teach my husband about the winning ways of the bad cop! I asked casually what the problem might possibly be while looking rather smug with one eyebrow raised. My husband dodged my scathing sarcasm and proceeded to earnestly explain in great detail what happened when he re-entered the toy area with Thing 1. He truly acted shocked at our child's behavior. I knew that I had obviously not been enough of an asshole yet, and I vowed to try harder. My husband successfully gathered up the remains of our toddler and we headed to the cashier. While in the checkout lane, I watched Thing 1 attempt to touch every item within his reach while whining about his critical need for each and every ridiculous thing.
When he reached for a Martha Stewart Living magazine and demanded that he must have it, I looked up at my groom and said, "Really? You don't see a problem with buying him something whenever you go out together?"
He remained obtuse and replied, "The last one was a $2 car!" (he has the intensely irritating habit of constantly defending his non-approved actions).
I responded, "It doesn't matter, it is the principle!" and then I had to pick at the scab, because that is what makes me special and gives me the emotional maturity of a 12 year old, and I said, "This has been a wonderful shopping experience. Thank you."
We crammed ourselves back into my truck, drove the mile home and emptied the contents of our haul onto the kitchen counter. While my husband put away the Wal-Mart meat, Thing 1 then "helped" me string the white lights onto our tree, Thing 2 shrieked with glee and drooled on himself and we all enjoyed an evening of Christmas Music and family fun. The end.
Ahahaha! That really is the end to the story. I still don't think my husband learned anything and I fully expect to have a repeat of this scenario about 200 more times before I die. That is my life. I get to be the disgruntled asshole while my husband gears up in his candy coated armour and flies his fucking unicorn over the city.