All three of my kids experience the same power trip in a very unlikely place--dissing the Walmart greeter. When you walk into Walmart there is a greeter, usually a nice older person in a blue vest, who...well...greets you and offers the kids a Walmart smiley face sticker. At some point several years ago Phoebe told me she didn't want the sticker. I asked what she thought she should do about it. She mulled it over and said, "Should I say 'no thank you?" I thought that sounded like the perfect thing to do. It's wierd that kids have to think through and learn this stuff.
The next time we went to Walmart, Phoebe geared herself up in the van. "I'm not going to take a sticker today!" When we walked through the anti-theft gates the greeter said, "Would you like a sticker?" and automatically started pulling the yellow circle from its backing. Phoebe looked up at her and said, "No, thank you." At this the greeter stopped, looked suspiciously at my child, and looked questioningly at me. I simply smiled and we walked on without a sticker.
I can still picture her little face as we walked on through the store. She was so proud of herself!
Imagine being four and realizing, maybe for the first time, that you don't have to take whatever a grown up wants to give you! Imagine discovering that you have power over what happens to you and what gets stuck to your jacket. Imagine the realization that there is an option that lies between throwing a fit about something and sitting back and taking it. You can calmly look a grown up in the face and say, "No, thank you." And guess what? They have to put their stupid little sticker back in their stupid blue vest pocket!
It was all over after that. There was no way she was ever going to accept a sticker after that. Moses followed suit and when Ollie got to be a little older, he also became a Walmart Sticker Refuser.
There were times when the greeter didn't hear (as I said, they are usually older) or didn't pay attention and the kids would have to repeat themselves. They were always polite as they mustered up the courage to be firm. "I said, 'No, thank you.' I don't want a sticker." But, there were times when the greeter said something that I'm sure seemed very benign to them...something like, "Sure you do, sweetheart." and started to adhere the smiley face to the kids' chest.
Oh, no you didn't, Greeter! You're harshing on my kids' naural high.
I quickly became as offended as the kids did by this. They have a right to refuse a sticker! If it was me, I'd be pissed if some stranger walked up and stuck a sticker on my shirt. Personal space! Hello?!
Today our greeter had some nerve. Ollie and I walked in and without even asking or looking at him really the greeter stuck a sticker on him...but honestly, I wasn't paying much attention. He kept a brave face until we were out of range and then he howled. He didn't want a sticker! She didn't even ask him! She just stuck it on his jacket and he doesn't want it! He ripped it off and thrust it at me. I folded it over on itself and put it in my pocket.
I debated going back and confronting the greeter. Can you imagine? They would think I was so nuts....but Oliver would think I was awesome. Instead I offered him my sincerest empathy. It was a rude thing to do. I'd be mad too. I don't know why she didn't ask. Next time, we'll make sure you don't get a sticker.
What a twisted little world I've created for myself.