Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hi ho the dairy-o

Our Parents as Teachers lady told us at her last visit that we shouldn't be telling Zoe she's either a good girl or a bad girl, as apparently "bad girl" can become stuck in her psyche and cause irreparable damage requiring expensive counseling and therapy later in life. Since we're going to need her to pay for our nursing home, we figure we should do what we can to help her save money, so we've been working really hard to explain to her how to be "good" in alternative ways.

So far, the best that we've come up with is "behave" and "misbehave." She's a smart kid, and has latched onto the meaning pretty quickly. This weekend we've had to have several conversations where we talk about behaving and misbehaving, and that Zoe has a choice to do one or the other. We've also had to talk about the consequences of behaving (dessert, going to the park, etc.) and the consequences of misbehaving (no cookie at Sam's, for instance, which was today's meted punishment).

Her misbehavior today stemmed from the shopping excursion just prior to Sam's: Target. She loves Target, although if pressed she'll admit she prefers the blue shopping carts at Sam's to the red ones at Target. Anyway, today, she sweetly asked on the way in if she could walk instead of ride in the cart. We agreed.

Oh. My. God. Do you know how impossible it is to shop when your child is not restrained in the cart, and is free to wander (or in her case, dance, run and jump) at will? Yeah, it's sheer madness to try. I alternated my frustration between Zoe, who got in seemingly every other shopper's way while she danced through the aisles, and M, who, for the bajillionth time, had to whip out the BlackBerry to determine whether the 17 oz bottle of dishwasher detergent was more or less cost effective than the 30 oz bottle. We're talking fractions of cents difference here, but that's my boy.

As we were trying to finish up, we moved from one department to another. Zoe took one look at the extra wide main aisle, which was at the time blessedly free of other shoppers, and decided it looked like the perfect runway for a preschooler. She took off, pigtails bouncing, and at first we laughed as she looked absolutely adorable. M started after her, and Zozer glanced back over her shoulder to see him heading her direction. Her speed increased. His speed increased. When she saw that, she made a 90-degree turn, without slowing down mind you, and disappeared into the sub-aisles filled with racks of clothing.

It's the first time I've ever seen M break into a dead sprint in the middle of a retail store.

I was far behind, of course, manhandling the shopping cart laden with our wares (including three 17 oz bottles of dishwasher detergent, M having determined we could save 9/100 of a cent with each). I watched M zigzag through the racks, then saw him dive and heard Zoe squeal. Up they both came out of the sea of clothing, and that's when she lost it. Major melt-down. She so did not want to be held by Daddy, and I'll be damned if everyone in the store didn't know it within 30 seconds.

M growled at me, "Finish shopping," and then took Zoe into a less-occupied aisle. I alternately heard her wails and his calm voice, "Zoe, quit crying. You misbehaved, so that's why Daddy has to hold you." Presently she quieted down, and we checked out and left without further mishap.

After Target, we went to Sam's, where we explained to Zoe before entering that she wasn't going to get her cookie because she misbehaved at Target. We talked again about cause and effect, and how she has a choice in her behavior. I really thought we had it all worked out, until right after our conversation she asked 50 times in a row, "Can I have a cookie?"

Later, as we walked the aisle of Sam's (Zoe strapped safely and securely in the cart as we, if nothing else, learn quickly from our mistakes), Zoe began to sing. She sings all sorts of songs, including Rain Rain Go Away, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Farmer in the Dell. It's not unusual for her to sing, so for a bit I wasn't quite tuned into what she was saying.

Then I realized what was coming out:

"Hi ho the dairy-o, I misbehaved!" Then she'd laugh with delight.

Little smartass.


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