Last week, my daughter was throwing a bit of a temper tantrum. It wasn’t a huge meltdown. We were at the store and she really, really, really wanted a toy that a bunch of her friends had. I told her that her birthday was coming up and she was going to have to wait to see if she got it. She didn’t start yelling in the store or anything. (Because she’s smart enough to know that will not end well.) But she was moody and rude as we finished our shopping and headed home.
Maybe we were tired or maybe the universe was aligned against me, but the argument seemed to escalate. She would not stop pouting about her lack of La La Oopsie doll to play with. Finally, I told my daughter that she was ruining her chance of getting the doll for her birthday, that I wouldn’t be buying her a new toy anytime soon if she couldn’t be patient and respectful and understanding that she can’t get everything she wants.
My beautiful, intelligent four-year-old little girl looked me in the face and said, “Fine Mom. Daddy father will get it for me. Or Mimi. Or Nana. Or Aunt Dian. Someone will get it for me whether you do or not.” Then she went to her bed, pulled out her tablet, and called her 7-year-old cousin on Skype to tell her just how upset she was.
It’s a scene that will give me nightmares for years to come. It’s a moment when I stood still and realized, “Shit. My kid is completely spoiled.”
I take plenty of responsibility for my daughter’s entitled attitude, though I have a feeling that this is an issue any parent of a young child might have to deal with. The fact is, I don’t like denying my daughter. I enjoy seeing her face light up when we do something special or take a mommy-daughter day. I completely buy into positive reinforcement and rewarding her for being responsible and well-behaved.
At the same time, my daughter has a whole lot of adults who are always willing to give a gift or organize a special event. My husband and I both have large families that live close by and we see frequently. My daughter’s biological father and his family dote on her. I have a lot of childless friends who lavish gifts and attention on my little girl. She is completely comfortable when an adult’s attention and she’s come to understand exactly how to get what she wants.
What I’m trying to say is that… I have a spoiled kid. There are lots of reasons and complexities and things to make me feel less guilty about this fact. But it doesn’t change. My precious little girl has the dangerous and unsettling possibility of turning into a brat. And now I have to figure out how to keep the Veruca Salt at bay.