Pick Your Battles

Some things are worth fighting for. Some things are not.

This morning, I walked in on T getting dressed. He was wearing new shorts that still had the tags on them. I walked over and reached out to pop them off and he ran away.

“I want those there.”

“But T, they’re supposed to come off.”

“But I want them. I like them.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. You can’t walk around with store tags hanging off your pants. Be reasonable.”

“Why not?”

“Because you just can’t.” How’s that for parental expertise? Way to let him know who's boss. “It’s just how it works. It’s tacky. You don’t want people to see what they cost. It’s inappropriate.” That’s one I whip out whenever I can’t figure out an explanation that will actually work.

“But they make me happy!” He’s being silly, I know, and this particular child has a flair for the ridiculous, I also know. But he cannot wear shorts with tags.  I mean, right?

“Take off the tags.” Me using my end of discussion voice.  At this point it's crossing into "you're disobeying" territory.

“Fine, then I just won’t wear them.”

He is also a child of extreme stubbornness. The one who will sacrifice something equally good if it’s not what he wants. If he feels strongly about Bruster’s ice cream and everyone else wants Sweet Frog, he won’t order anything as a form of protest. If I tell him that he has to eat his Brussels sprouts or go to bed at 7:30, he’ll hit the sack before the sun goes down. He’s a martyr for his causes, no one can deny this.

I'm told I was the same way.

I stopped. I mean, really, what WAS the big deal? His pals would probably think it was funny. He went through a phase where he would wear his shirts inside out and backwards every day. His brother only wore black striped socks the summer he was 5. His sister liked to wear yoga pants UNDER her dance leotards. He wore his dad’s old glasses, a cape and a tool belt to every swim meet one summer. And, remember, this is the kid who wore a huge lobster hat and claws to Red Lobster for his birthday. The one who dressed up as an eyeball wearing a suit for Halloween. His sense of humor tends to lean toward irreverent, to say the least.

“Alright, fine.”


Was it worth it to go round and round over some stupid tags? No. Not really. Do I think it’s ridiculous? Of course. You should see the look my husband gave me when he saw them. I know he thought we were both off our rockers. However, I made him tuck them into his pocket.  Mission accomplished, for us both.

Sometimes, you just have to pick your battles. Sometimes, you have to compromise.  He wanted to be right, I wanted to be right and the reason for both of us was "just because."  I want my kids to see that their parents are people who can be reasoned with, when appropriate.  I want my kids to have a sense of independence and self expression.  I remember one time I made a miniskirt out of a piece of fabric my mom had by pinning it together and then, basically, pinning it on me.  I still can't believe my mother let me do that, but I appreciated that flexibility and compromise. Quite frankly, arguing over something as inane as tags can be a soul sucking sacrifice of sanity. Yes, I just alliterated the heck out of that. Will my lack of adherence to the “rules” about the tags reinforce bad behavior or rebellion long term? I doubt it. No one got hurt. Will someone say something to him and laugh? Perhaps, but maybe it won’t matter. Maybe my extreme sense of “supposed to” and “not supposed to” is MY issue. I’ve been pretty flexible with my kids over the years when it comes to hair, clothing, etc. I’m usually all about compromise and letting them have some control. I was so happy the boys didn’t argue with me when I requested that they wear something “nicer” to dinner on Mother’s Day that the fact that T was wearing a mint green stripe tee with green, navy and red plaid shorts didn’t even phase me. Again, not worth it. He did what I asked because it was Mother’s Day and he loves me enough to honor my request.

It was a battle that would have ruined Mother’s Day and it was a battle that would have ruined the morning. And over what?

I picked peace. Further rewarded by a smile.

It was so worth it.


Unknown said…
I admire your stamina and decision-making process. You are a great mother.

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