In light of some of my comments on yesterday's "Banned From Walmart" post, I thought I should give my kids some credit. They are not horrible! We often get compliments on their behavior; even at times when they were still not as well-behaved as I'd hoped. There was a time-frame when we'd given up on taking them into restaurants, but now we can do that again ... most of the time. There are some days when we know their coping skills are not strong enough for that, and we wisely choose to eat at home, or carry-out.
My oldest four rarely wander off in Wal-mart anymore, and the youngest 3 haven't yet done so. Actually, now my 14 year old does that frequently, but she usually asks if she can first. It's been ages since my 8 year old son just decided to go to the toy section alone, or hid under clothing racks. And although my 10 year old continues to be oblivious to those around her and does still walk in front of people's carts, she's rarely spinning pirouettes in the aisles anymore. Some of them still like to walk on the black tiles, but they try to be more aware of those around us and they stop if I ask them to.
Our current problems lie with the 3 year old and the 5 year old. We're working on training them ... thus the current grounding from Wal-Mart for my 5 year old. He has to learn that it isn't acceptable to act wildly, and that if he will not behave in the store, he will not enter the store.
I could make excuses about my two hyper-active kids, or the ones who are really distractible dreamers, or their impulsive natures, or the two emotional ones that are prone to melt-downs, but I won't. They aren't perfect, and neither am I. This particular season is another rough one with behavior, but we will come through it, and they will improve. That is one thing I've learned over the past 14 years of parenting.
Although we don't maintain a single file line, or keep hands on the carts, we can move together through the store in a semi-orderly and moderately quiet fashion. It is possible, and it does happen. I just haven't felt that I should totally squelch who God made my kids to be ... instead we try to train them to moderate their natural inclinations. Yes you can wiggle and move and talk ... but just keep it within these boundaries that don't cause problems for other shoppers.
I'm not saying those who are more orderly have squelched their kids, but for me to achieve that with mine would take some harsh measures and it would be squelching them. I decided a long time ago that I was causing more harm than I was making progress, so I followed my husband's lead and backed off from trying to achieve the goal of quiet children following me in a line at the store. Especially since my main reason for doing so was so that I could look like a good mom.
For the sake of a funny post, and in expression of my frustration earlier this week on a noticeably BAD experience with my 5 year old, I focused on the negatives. BUT it's not always like that. In fact, on Wednesday night, we ate in a restaurant as a family. No one got up and ran around, and we received more smiles than glares. The discussion over who got to eat mashed potatoes and who got macaroni stayed calm and fairly quiet. Rest assured, they do receive compliments on their behavior fairly often, and they can behave themselves.
I'm sorry if my post hurts the image of large families, or contributes to the belief that they're wild and the new Cheaper By The Dozen movie is reality for all large families. BUT ... I also know that there are other mothers of large families who are trying to raise up their children in a godly fashion. And they feel they can never measure up to the expectations that are placed upon them. Just like some of us suffer under the burden of the Perfect Polly Homemaker image, or the Super Susie Homeschooler image ... some of us are burdened by the guilt that our large family isn't perfect enough. Mega Mom Mary's kids are much better behaved than ours and she looks at us as if we've failed to discipline our children and are sending them straight to Hell in a handbasket.
I don't think that is what my commenters were thinking yesterday. (If you were, don' t tell me.) But I realized after reading their comments that I needed to post a disclaimer. Not only for my own image, but also for the reputation of my kids.
I wrote my post because I know there are other Moms out there who just need to know that they aren't alone. That other Christian families have rough days at Wal-mart, too. And the more kids you have, the more likely you are to have more rough days.
My kids are gifts, and one day God is going to take all that energy and passion and use it for His glory ... if I can get my kids safely through childhood with a measure of self-control. LOL!! In the meantime, raising them can be tiring -- and when we have bad days, it's better to laugh about them than to feel like a failure as a Mom. I know, because I've tried it both ways.
In this journey with you,