Need a hint? First, note the discarded box of clothes. Now check out the expression on Nana's face as she exchanges a glance with Josie, who appears to be sitting next to a box of princess-glitter dominoes.
As mama of the prostrate kid who is indeed not praying but throwing a fit because "clothes are not fun!" what should I have done? Honestly, I was so stunned that my first reaction was to, of course, grab the camera and document the moment for a future blog post. Check. My next impulse, which I only partially stifled, was to burst out laughing. Not because it was funny, but because in that moment every person in that room, all 12 or so, were mentally revoking my parental license. I mean, right? Was this not the quintessential parental failure? Yes, I know, she's 4, but didn't I teach her anything? I hate it when those teachable moments happen in front of the whole world, because you know all those people watching just want to see you jerk a knot in the kid's ungrateful tail. I was just relieved it happened at my mom's and not some extended family member's home. I would most certainly have died on the spot.
Still, for a few moments, everything hinged on how I would respond. So flying totally by the seat of my pants, here's what I did: I called her over and whispered in her ear -- with no anger and no sympathy, just matter of fact -- "Nana loves you and she gave you a present for Christmas. Let's take a look at it." She looked down and saw the cute glittery outline of a butterfly on the front of the pink shirt. I asked, "What do you think?" She said, "It's pretty. " I said, "I know; it looks just like something you like to wear. Now what do we do when someone gives us a nice present?" Then I turned her toward Nana and suggested she thank her for the pretty outfit. She did.
And that was the end of it.
Until we got in the car to go home. And we were without an audience. Then Caroline and I had a lengthy conversation about giving and receiving gifts and what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. And the art of being grateful and appreciative when every bone in your 4-year-old body wants to cry. She, in true Caroline fashion, tried to negotiate with me about how maybe when she got a little older, she wouldn't cry when someone gave her clothes as a gift. And I realized it'll probably take several conversations for the message to stick.
The conversation came up a couple days later when I pulled out the outfit to put away and she said, "Nana gave that to me." And I said, "Yes, I distinctly remember you opening this one." And she burst out laughing and said, "You said stinkly! Hahaha!"