Reality Bites

Random musings of reality bytes ... when reality bites.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Adventures in Babysitting

DH & I spent our St. Patrick's evening babysitting his 7 yr old nephew, Scott.

My sister & brother in law, Jan and Grant went out for dinner and watch a musical. We reported for duty at their house at 6p as requested. After filling us in on some intructions, the pair left for their evening out.

DH & I have both baby sat Scott previously so this was nothing new to us.

When the parents left, we fed Scott his usual dinner: white rice, chicken nuggets and corn. That's all he eats. Everyday for dinner. White rice, chicken nuggets and corn. Everyday. Scott doesn't eat anything else for dinner. In the past 4.5 years I've known him, I've have not seen him eat anything else for a dinner meal. We spend time with the family alot so we know what the pattern is. DH & I think it's strange that it is what he eats only and no new foods are introduced to him or encouraged to try. We know kids go through phases in foods, but after almost 5 years, is that still a phase?

Scott seems pretty healthy for a 7yr old so maybe his food pattern is not something to be concerned about. He does eat a lot of fruits but aside from waffles for breakfast, PB&J for lunch and the rice/nuggets/corn for dinner and milk, that is his daily food intake for the last 3 years. He is not allergic to any foods.

DH & I prepare Scott his dinner and asked him to eat at the dinner table without watching his cartoons as what he is accustomed to daily during dinner. We let him eat his dinner by himself without spoon feeding him. Dinner went along smoothly and after some prompting and encouragement, he finished his dinner with not much trouble.

With dinner finished, he was free to play.

It was too cold to go out for ice cream so DH & I took Scott out for a drive as Scott voted to go out for a drive. After getting a smoothie, we ended up at Target, probably our mistake to take him there.

We walked around and he was behaving well. Even as we passed by the toy dept. He was just looking at toys. As we called him to leave, he was stalling. He said he wanted a toy. (Scott has TONS of toys at home, we see him with a new toy almost every week). We playfully kidded with Scott and asked him if his parents gave him any money to buy a toy tonight. He said no. OK, we're sorry we can't buy a toy. He didn't like what he heard.

He insisted that he wanted a toy. We explained to Scott that we're not here to buy a toy tonite sweetie. Since his birthday is coming up in a month, why don't you write down what you liked and put it on your birthday list. We tried to explain in the way a 7yr old would understand it. Scott is pretty much used to getting his way with his parents all the time so he was testing his limits with us.

Unfortunately for him, DH & I don't fall for his tricks. We held our ground and explained to him that we're not here to buy a toy. "But I want that toy". We calmly told him: Honey, I'm sorry, we know you want it right now but we can't always get what we want. This went on for about 5 minutes.

Scott was pouting but luckily for us was not screaming or throwing a loud tantrum at the store. We managed to finally leave Target but not before Scott announced to DH: You're not my favorite uncle anymore! It was hard to hear that, especially for DH. His parents may give in to him, but DH & I are not quick to give in to his demands. His parents can buy him that toy for him tomorrow if they want to. We said we wanted to buy things at target too but didn't. Of course try to reason with a 7 yr old who gets his way all the time. We can't undo what has been done.

DH & I are very generous with Scott, so it's not like we were being grinches to him. We both felt that asking for a toy (which he has an abundance of) and expecting to get it right away was not the lesson we wanted him to learn, at least not on our watch. It was honestly very hard to say no to Scott and it was hard to hear he didn't love us and wanted us to go home. However, DH & I both felt that caving in to his tantrum was a lesson we did not want him to learn from us. He may hate us but at least he will respect us.

Scott pouted and shed a tear in the car. At home, he watched his dvd, still kinda mad. He calmed down after an hour and by bedtime, he was somewhat friendly again. He went to bed around 9.45p, after DH & I tucked him in and read him his favorite bedtime story. When he went to sleep, DH & I watched some dvds until the parents came home at 11.30.

When they came home, we told him of the evening's activities including his mini trantrum at the store. They didn't seem surprised as I'm sure all parents go through the same scenario frequently. They said we handled him well.

Admittedly, DH & I are judgemental sometimes of Scott's upbringing. Is it fair of us to judge their parental skills? No, it isn't, parenting is a difficult job. I love my inlaws, they are good, kind, generous people and mean well. Scott is an overall good kid. But it is concerning at times to see Scott be in so much control of his parents. I know it's especially hard for DH to see it. Yes, we know we don't have kids and "we'll see when we have kids of our own", as we often hear. Scott is not our child so of course we can't tell the parents how to raise him. That is their business.

Seeing how Scott acts up reinforces how DH & I want to raise our own kids someday, among them:

  • Our kids will learn to eat what we prepare and what's on the table, not just what he likes. He will not like or eat everything, that's OK, at least he would be encouraged to try different foods.
  • He will learn to be eat by himself at an early age
  • No playing with toys or watching TV while eating
  • They will be brought up to be well balanced and NOT spoiled
  • Discipline, bounderies and respect will be enforced at an early age, not starting at 5 yrs old
It's easier said than done and I'm sure parents everywhere have the same credo. DH & I plan to practice what we preach someday and hopefully succeed in raising an unspoilt child.

As much as we love the little rugrat, he is spoiled. Sat's instance was just one example, there are many more.

After the adventure in babysitting, I was surprised the inlaws accepted our invitation to have dinner at our house last night. I would expect they didn't want to see us until next week... :)

Question of the day: How do you raise a child that is NOT spoiled, in today's society?


Blogger Ally said...

I think it requires energy, firmness, and consistency. I also think it may have to include restrictions on the other people in your children's life as I've witnessed grandparents and aunts/uncles give children so much that the parents don't even need to do so. I don't think I could stand my three year old receiving several hundred dollars worth of toys for Christmas from just one set of grandparents--because that's completely inconsistent with raising a balanced, non-spoiled child. I have no doubt it's not easy--but quite possible. To do otherwise is irresponsible and reaping negative consequences for our society as a whole.

March 20, 2007 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger brookem said...

I agree with Ally about the energy and consistency. I am an only child, and often people assume that as such, I'd be "spoiled." I admit, to some extent I was. But not in the way that I always got what I wanted, pouted until I did, etc. I would say I more or less just got treated extra special, because it was just me. I think it's important to teach kids, at an early age, that every child grows up differently, but that it's important for them to understand what you, as their parent sets as rules for them. I agree too with possibly having some type of restrictions with other family members in regards to trying to have the children follow the same routines, schedules, rules with them, as they do at home. Consistency I think is very key.

March 20, 2007 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger brandy said...

I plan on raising a non spoiled child by buying myself whatever he/she wants. They want a new ipod? I get one first. They will have to learn to wait to get what they want, plus deal with all the feelings of jealousy of seeing someone else get it, plus, I will get a new ipod. Hooray! Seriously though, I agree with the comments posted. Consistency is key!

March 20, 2007 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

I think in order to raise an unspoiled child, you have to set boundaries, just like you and D.H. want to.

I've had a nephew tell me that "he doesn't like me anymore" many times. It's just part of the "testing the limits" tricks they pull.

March 20, 2007 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Trixie said...

i agree with everyone's responses. like ally said, consistency is the key. not only with the parents but as well with the extended family.

setting bounderies is also key, like angel jr said.

brookem- i was am the youngest and only girl and like you was treated extra special but not spoiled. my parents would never let me or my brother get away with crying or pouting to get what we want.

brandy - you always make me laugh. :) h,mmm... maybe you're on to something there. ;)

March 22, 2007 at 8:09 AM  

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