I bribe my kid because I can't slow down.
The Grape, like most babies, is basically a ticking time bomb. He's happy, happy, happy until his fuse runs out and then he melts down like an old Soviet power plant. His fuse, like anyone else's, varies in length based on a combination of highly scientific variables, such as prior nap quality, recent food intake and cosmic alignment.
The Grape also came equipped with special sensors that instruct him to coo adorably inside toy stores and to scream like a murder victim when he comes within a hundred yards of a handbag or shoe sale. So regardless of the aforementioned variables, he's always more inclined to act cute if he suspects he's about to receive something cool.
Today we had a long list of errands to accomplish. For example, I somehow managed to lose the handy plastic canister that stores pre-measured amounts of formula for easy mixing on the move. So I went to a baby gear store to acquire a replacement for this four-dollar item. The Grape was fussing on the way in, because I'd already dragged him all over town for almost three hours in the oppressive heat, but he perked right up when he realized we were in a store that catered to his needs. And desires.
I turned my back for half a minute to find the stupid canister, and The Grape managed to grab a big, multi-colored stuffed squeaky thing called a Whoozit off a low slung shelf. Naturally, he shoved at least seventy per cent of his find into his mouth. It was so covered in slobber in such record time that I felt like we kind of had to buy the silly chew toy.
By the way, the sales girl looked at me like she was considering calling social services when I asked, "How much for the chew toy?" (I could tell she was resisting the urge to inform me that The Grape is not a canine.) Clearly she has no children of her own. If she did, she'd know that even if the label extols a plethora of developmental benefits, an eleven-month-old will gnaw on anything that fits in his mouth -without a second thought as to whether the chew toy serves any educational purpose or not.
Twenty-eight (?!) bucks later, my kid smiled - and chewed up his new treasure - all the way home. And I was okay with that. Alright, I felt slightly ripped off, but mostly okay, because I didn't have to a) listen to ear splitting screaming, or b) endure the glares of strangers who cannot understand why I'd let my kid howl like a banshee in a public place.
Of course, I could try to do less when we venture out of the apartment. I could spread my errands over multiple outings. I could dash home so he could nap on a precise schedule, and I could be a hostage to those nap times. Instead I try to have him nap on the go, and if that fails, I purchase his cooperation.
Earlier this week, I was so thrilled that he behaved in the pedicure place (he sat in the stroller and flirted with all the girls) that I propelled straight to the playground as soon as my toes were half dry. I'm not sure if The Grape fully processed the nature of the trade, but I figured, he was good for me, so he should get something good in return.
R. suspects I'm laying the foundation for years of bratty behavior. But maybe (hopefully?) I'm just teaching him a little ingenuity.