Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shopping with children

If you're a parent shopping with kids, you're probably familiar with the "can-I-have?" questions that pop-up on every trip.  With food, the "can we buy this?" question is fairly easy for me to deal with on a health/budget basis:  "No, that has too much sugar in it", or "No, I'm not going to pay $3 for something we can make from scratch at home", or even the happy, "Sure, let's grab a bag of apples!"

With my daughter, the thing that always caught her eyes were the toys.  Oh, man, it's hard to tell my kid she can't have any toys.  But even though I wasn't a thorough miser-mom back when my daughter was young, I still wasn't enough of a patsy to cave in for every little pink plastic cereal container, flashing ring, or set of hair ties.  I came up with a response that worked so well, that she'd start answer herself even before I did: "Yeah, I know, I know, . . . we'll see if I still want it next time we come here."

That notion of waiting-until-next-time is a great idea for me as well.  It doesn't work so well at yard sales (because I can't go back to the same yard sale next week), and it doesn't work well with my boys in stores (because nowadays I shop so seldom, they know "next time" could be months from now).  But for my own shopping, I've come to learn that if I didn't think I needed that amazing step-ladder before I came to the store, there's a good possibility I don't need it now just because I've seen it.  And if a week or so passes and I realize I really could use it, I can always go back next week.  (Or because it's me, next month.  Next year??).

This past year, between my summer stock-piling and my husband's love of shopping, I probably end up at a grocery store with the boys only about once every other month.  They don't beg or whine with either parent, but the boys clearly have figured out where their own best interests lie as far as who should take them along.  One of the last times I was pushing my cart past the bakery section, my youngest son gazed fondly at the candy-covered glazed doughnuts, and said wistfully, "Mom, . . . don't you think it would be nice if . . . if Dad were here?"

Next time, honey.  

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