Sunday, November 6, 2011

On trains and discipline

I don't think that Rich and I had our best parenting moment, yesterday. Somewhat unexpectedly we popped into the new big bookstore that's taken over from Borders. Now, Raf loved Borders. He loved playing with all the little toys and reading all the train books he could find, so we were excited to find that this new store has a very similar set-up. Except.... it sells Thomas the Tank Engine merchandise. Specifically, it has an entire podium dedicated almost entirely to very overpriced wooden Thomas trains and his many, many friends!

To say that Raf is passionate about trains would be understating how much he loves them. Thus it was no surprise when he scurried toward the trains and set his sights on having EVERY single train. Usually Raf is pretty good humoured about things and will make an attempt to secure many trains but will happily come away with just one, or even none. For instance, every time we go food shopping Raf puts at least 2 or 3 Thomas DVDs in the shopping trolley, and when we get to the till to pay we ask the cashier to put them back for us, and Raf is fine. Well, yesterday, Raf saw a wooden Gordon train and started shouting 'Gord, Gord, Gord', and taking as many 'Gords' as he could off the shelf and bundling them in his arms. I took some of the trains off him and he was really cross!

Trying to reason with a not very verbal 2 year old, I said, "Raf, you can have one Gordon", and then he proceeded to grab James, Percy, Edward, and Bash! Mind you, he only has little arms.... He was being quite loud and since I hate to be 'that' family, I again try to reason with him, 'Raf, you can have one train but you need to shush and put the rest back'.

This had no impact whatsoever, as more knowledgeable readers of this blog will have predicted. But we were left with a dilemma... should we buy this very over-priced wooden train when Raf is being a bit of a dink? So we hemmed and hawed as Raf still cried, and instead of buying it, we put it back and I did the walk of shame through the store with a very upset Rafi.

I didn't feel good about what happened and I'm left wondering if our expectations of him were too high, and whether we should have bought the train. By the time we were in the car and driving away he was actually fine. Of course now I'm planning on getting that damn train for him...!


  1. i think you did just fine, mama! it's so hard! for you and him. sadly it's painful stuff learning these boundaries as kiddos (and having to implement them!). he'll be ok as he has a loving family to help him through the ouch-y bits x

  2. Thanks, Lou. It's really tricky to find a good balance. I did just find the train MUCH cheaper on Amazon too :)

  3. I think you did fine, too. Jocelyn asks for different things at the store and we usually have a very specific list already planned. It is pretty rare I'm spontaneous about getting her something and she seems to forgive quite easily.

  4. Thanks, Julie, we're usually pretty planned about it, too. I have to admit that I absolutely delight in seeing him play with a beloved new train!!

  5. I think you did fine. Although your toddler is screaming like a maniac, every good parent in there is thinking, "I hope she doesn't cave and buy the train."

    Mama although he doesn't talk like a five year old yet, he DOES understand WAY WAY more than he can say.

    Are you looking for been there done that advice? If so, keep reading. If you always say "not today" or "let's think about it" to those requests, and really do revisit them, your kid KNOWS you won't cave and doesn't try (when they are older that is). My kids express lots of desire for stuff and we talk about how it is good to think about how we spend our money. We all have wish lists (they know I have one too) and that I certainly won't say YES just because they threw a fit.

    And secondly: when you go back -- perhaps a quick conversation about how its going to go down is in order before you leave the car. "Raf we're going in, we'll play with the trains, but I'm not buying any trains today." That gives him a preview of what to expect.

  6. you did great!

    firm, calm, consistent :)

  7. Kristin, this is EXACTLY the advice I'm looking for. We don't want Raf to be materialistic and we want him to value the things he has. Part of the problem was that we weren't expecting trains to be there. When we go to Target, say, we have a plan of action and it usually goes okay.

    Thanks, Kate :) So much to learn!

  8. What they said! I think you did the right thing, too. Part of being a kid is testing boundaries--not to misbehave, but truly to find out where those boundaries are. I think it's comforting for them to find out. But then you also have the big, big, big feelings about loving trains, and so much novelty--that's bound to be a tidal wave of emotions that little Raf is not yet experienced at handling.

    But I think the bottom line is that you did the best you knew how to do at the time. That is all we can expect of ourselves!!!

    If it makes you feel any better, I almost had to carry Sage kicking and screaming from the playground yesterday. Seriously, I came *this close* to doing it and only didn't because I wasn't sure I wouldn't drop her by accident!


  9. Hey hey! I was so excited when I read the end of the story and you did not cave! :) You did exactly what you should do--and it's no walk of shame! :) It's the "I'm teaching my child" walk. I have before, just sat down near a kid and watched them have it out in a store until the calmed down and we could move on. You're teaching all kinds of wonderful things, like patience, regulating emotions, needs vs wants, dealing with limits, etc etc. Fabulous job!!!!! :)

    Also, welcome to the toddler stage full blast. ;)

  10. Just keep talking to him as you are taking him out of the store.

    "I know, I was really surprised those trains were there. But it was fun to play with them and I'm not buying one today. Next time we come back to this bookstore to look, we will expect them to be here and we can visit them."

    "Wow I can tell you are really wanting me to buy you a train. I wasn't planning on buying trains today, but I know you really love the train. We'll say goodbye to it and come back and visit."