I got called out by our 7 year old.
We were 3 days into camp and the boys were in an outdoor bliss coma. A swimming, tadpole-catching, shake-eating, Frisbee-tossing, tire-swinging, corndog-eating, belly-contest-watching, creation-soaking, GOD-sense coma.
They were also tired and hangry.
Ty chose his meltdown location at the shake shack.
Around families and high school students and sweet camp staff who probably have to see child meltdowns on a daily basis and add another mark to the years they will most definitely wait to become parents.
Ty parked himself at a table and was planted so firmly in his seat you would’ve thought a tornado could’ve blown through and he would still hold onto the sides for dear life and wrap his feet around the chair legs ’til death did him part.
“I wanna eat dinner in here,” he stated.
“We’re gonna go grab a seat by the pond and eat dinner there and watch the pond competition,” Bry explained.
You would’ve thought we told him we skinned Bruiser alive.
A slow guttural wail ensued followed by a shower of crocodile tears.
“I wanna eat HERE!” his fingers gripped the table and he shot doggers at us.
Parent friends, you know that feeling where you want to run away without looking behind, and hope some compassionate soul will come along and make your child feel better? Yea, it was one of those moments where my lips tightened in a thread and I wanted to join the tears and say, “Well, I wanted sushi for dinner but I’m going to enjoy every bite of this chicken sandwich.”
Ty’s wail escalated. The counselor Byran was talking with stared. The girls at the table next to us stared. I could feel their expectant gaze. What’s the crazy lady going to do? Is he always like this? Kids are so whiny.
“Okay, Ty we’ll eat dinner here. It’s not worth the fight,” I whispered.
Tanner grabbed a fry and calmly calmed me to the carpet.
“Mom, just because he starts crying doesn’t mean he should get his way. He knows what he’s doing.”
I couldn’t help but laugh.
I looked at one wailing son whom I adore, especially because his tears contain the dam to all the passion his little body contains. I looked at our other boy, new freckles splashed across Tanner’s pink cheeks.
“You’re right, T. You’re absolutely right. We said we were going to eat by the pond and we should.”
Tanner interrupted, “Just because he’s crying doesn’t mean you should change your mind.”
Darn kid. Alright. I get it. It’s just that it’s.so.much.easier to cave to tears and avoid WW3.
Or is it? I’m all about choosing our battles, but letting tears manipulate this situation wouldn’t be good for Ty in the long run. And we had another son that was taking notes on what negotiation and practicing what we preach mean.
We need to stick with what we say instead of changing everything because of tears, which in this instance were unnecessary.
I eyed Bry and reading my mind, we reacted like stealth ninjas. He scooped up Ty, Tanner and I grabbed the food, and out we walked the entire length of camp to the pond, Ty sobbing his crocodile wails.
Our oldest echoed his words, ever so aware of his status as older brother. “It’s just that he can’t cry to get his way.”
“I hear you bud, but sometimes you cry too, and we want to hear you guys out. And we want to extend grace. Have there been times you’ve cried and we’ve changed plans for you?”
“Ya,” he shuffled his feet and stabbed a fry in the ketchup.
“We are doing our best job to parent fair and treat you guys the same. We are hoping to give grace and get some in return.”
Parent friends, can we all agree we are doing the best we can? We are learning as we go. This parent thing is no joke. Sometimes we raise our voices. Sometimes we cave ‘cuz it’ so dang hard. Sometimes we cry over our children’s tears. But we are doing the best with whom God has given us to raise. We are doing our best to practice what we preach.
And wouldn’t you know. Sitting on the blanket eating our chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets, Ty perked right up.
Maybe the majority of his tears are connected to his stomach.