The Big Picture
It all started with a turkey sandwich. Well a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich as my daughter would say. As of late, a mayonnaise and turkey sandwiches are Shelby’s favorite thing to eat. She said her Papa made her a sandwich mayonnaise on it and now she loves mayo.
I’m away from home this week. I’m working at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey. This means Mike, my husband, is holding down the fort. To say we have different parenting styles would be an understatement. I wholly admit some of my parenting decisions are fueled by guilt. I work and travel a lot, so subconsciously and even consciously I spend much of my time at home “making up” for being away. But even without my mommy guilt, Mike and I are just different when it comes to parenting. I’m the soft and cuddly parent. I want to make everything better. I want to quietly ask Shelby to do something and hope she is just going to behave as I’d like. I let a lot of things go and am much more willing to choose my battles.
Mike on the other hand has much higher expectations on how children should behave. His mantra is “first time. “ They should listen on the first time. They should act on the first request. They should NEVER, EVER talk back. Already, he and Shelby are butting heads. Their identical strong willed personality can make things tough at times. I am hardly perfect. Usually I ask Shelby nicely to do something about 10 times and then on the 11th try, I explode. I guess if I expect more and stood my ground I’d never get to the explosion.
A few days ago, Shelby called my cell phone. My number is place prominently on our refrigerator and Shelb’s been told she can call me whenever she wants. It was breakfast time and after chatting about what she was wearing I asked her, “What are you going to have for breakfast?”
Then the tears came.
“Mom, I asked Daddy for a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich. He said that a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich isn’t something you eat for breakfast. I only want a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich … “
The sobbing got louder.
“Shelby, tell Daddy I said it’s not a big deal. He should just give you a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich.”
My husband got on the phone and crisply told me, “It is a big deal. She’s not having a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich for breakfast … we have to go or we’ll be late.”
Click. The phone went dead. Seriously? We just got in an argument over a mayonnaise and turkey sandwich. I retell the story to my coworker and still can understand why it was such a big deal.
“It’s not like she was asking for a bowl of ice cream or cake for breakfast. It’s a turkey sandwich. How is that different than breakfast sandwich from like McDonald’s?”
My husband and I continued our argument a few hours later via Google Chat.
“You’re just not looking at the big picture. In the grand scheme of things … it just doesn’t matter,” I said.
“The big picture is that you’re teaching our daughter that if Dad says no, just go to Mom and she’ll say yes.” he said.
In the end, we agreed to disagree, though I did say I’d try harder to support his decisions when I’m away.
My question to other parents out there is this: do you believe there are things that don’t matter, things not worth making a fuss about? Do you pick your battles when it comes to you kids?