The other day, SB and I were at Barnes and Noble. She found a Disney princess activity book on the clearance table, and after buying it we sat in the cafe playing with it and sharing a treat. Then she said she wanted to go play with the trains.
SB loves books, but I think the real reason she likes going to B&N is for the Thomas the Train Engine table. I sat on a chair nearby as she played, all alone, with the train set. Then a little boy probably a year younger entered the children's area with his mom.
I held my breath and waited to see how SB would do. The moment she saw the little boy, she yelled, "MINE!" She grabbed all the trains and piled them up in front of her. "Oh &*%$," I thought to myself. "Here we go..."
I walked over to SB and explained the trains were for everyone, and if she wanted to stay and play with them, she would need to share. I pointed out that there were lots of trains, and asked her to pick out a few to give to the little boy.
"NO!" she screamed. "All mine!"
I calmly but firmly told SB she had a choice. She could share the trains, and stay and play. Or, if she chose not to share, we would have to go home. She marched over to the little boy, who by this time had managed to grab a few trains for himself, and grabbed them from his hands.
And so I got to carry a screaming, kicking toddler out of the store. Which is always so much fun.
Fast forward about an hour and a half. We're home. SB is playing with her new princess activity book. I'm in the kitchen making preparations for cooking dinner. Suddenly, little hands are tugging at my leg. SB looks up at me with the most sincere little face I have ever seen.
"I sorry, Mommy."
"I not nice."
"How were you not nice?
"I not share trains."
"No, you wouldn't share the trains. That wasn't very nice, was it?"
"No. I mean. We go back book store. Right now. I tell little boy I sorry."
Sincere, sad little face looking up at me. OMG, y'all! I was in shock. My little terrorist had internalized the afternoon's events, thought about them... and had an Ah Ha moment!
I kneeled down so I could look SB directly in the eye.
"We can't go back to the book store, sweetie. That little boy has gone home with his mommy. We wouldn't be able to find him. But I am proud of you for thinking about it, and understanding how he must have felt when you wouldn't share with him. Thank you for telling me you are sorry."
After a hug, SB ran back into the living room to play. Then I had an Ah Ha moment of my own. All the hard work is actually starting to pay off. The lessons I am trying to teach her? She's getting them!
This parenting thing is hard. Being firm and loving and consistent is exhausting. But when you can begin to see the fruits of your labor, it is such a great feeling.