HOLDEN: Mom, can I get a bike lock?
ME: Another time, buddy. Mommy’s just looking at bikes for herself today.
HOLDEN: But I need a bike lock.
ME: Holden, I might get you one but it’s not happening right now.
HOLDEN: But why not?
ME: Buddy, I haven’t really liked your attitude today. If you can start acting a little nicer, then I might get you a bike lock.
HOLDEN: Well, I’m not leaving until you get me one.
ME: That’s not how it works, Holden.
HOLDEN: I won’t leave.
ME: Ummm, then not only will you NOT be getting it today but if you keep talking to me like that, you will NEVER be getting it. Let’s go.
ME: We’re getting in the car. This is your last chance.
And he sat down. Right there in the middle of the store, he had his own little personal sit-in. And we had three choices. We could give in and get him the bike lock. We could drag him out of there kicking and screaming. Or we could just walk out.
And my husband, Zoey and I walked out the door and got in the car.
At which point Zoey started freaking out.
ZOEY: Mommm, we can’t leave Holden!!
ME: We’re not really leaving, sweetie.
And the three of us sat there watching the door to the store waiting to see Holden come out. We waited and waited and waited. Nothing.
HUBBY: What do you want to do?
ZOEY: Noooooo, we can’t leave him!!!
ME: We’re not, honey. Just drive forward so he thinks we’re leaving.
And my hubby pulled the car forward. And we watched the doors. Nope, nothing. So my hubby pulled the car forward more so Holden really wouldn’t be able to see us anymore.
And we waited. We waited so long I started to have bad thoughts. I pictured the employees in the store finding Holden sitting on the ground and asking him where his parents are, and him saying they left, and them calling the police.
ME: Honey, they’re gonna think we left him.
HUBBY: No they won’t.
ME: You don’t know that. We’re gonna be THAT family on the news tonight. They’re going to call the police and DSS is gonna take him away. You have to go get him.
And just as my hubby was getting out of the car, guess what happened? The automatic doors to the store popped open. And there he was. Crying.
And he stomped to the car and got in. We won!! Kinda sorta.
Because he did not act nicer the rest of the day. We had another standoff about what shoes he would wear to baseball practice, a standoff about who broke Zoey’s LEGO set, and a standoff about books at bedtime. So as I was kissing him goodnight, this is what I said.
ME: Hey Holden, can we try to make tomorrow a better day?
HOLDEN: If you get me a bike lock.
ME: Yeahhh, that’s not happening.
HOLDEN: What if I’m better tomorrow?
ME: Sorry, buddy, you’re not getting the bike lock.
Because as far as I’m concerned there’s something he needs way more than a bike lock. A better attitude. Not just for an hour. Not just for a day. Not just for a few days. In fact, he might never get a bike lock with the way he acted. He’s worried about protecting his bike, but I’m worried about protecting something else. Him. He’s in a crappy phase right now, but the way I see it, how we respond is what makes it a phase and not something more permanent.
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