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    Childrearing #14*

    November 30, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Teach children to “cross their arms” while in a store. My mother did this with us, and I cannot tell you how many times this has come in handy over the years…especially lately. For a couple years there, I was basically a hermit. Four children and all, you know. I am not superwoman, which is why I had to stay home most of the time until Number Four turned two.

    Now we leave the house, and most of the time it works out okay.

    One of the reasons I can keep my sanity while shopping with four children is due to my mother’s rule: Cross your arms!

    Growing up, our family friends owned the town pharmacy. It was also the only real “store” in town by the time I was in junior high.

    You could even by Precious Moments figurines there!

    Well, this place was packed to overflowing with all sorts of goods. When you are the community’s only store, you make sure you have a little bit of everything, right?

    My mother’s daughters could drive her batty in this store. We wanted to touch…everything.

    So she told us to cross our arms.

    I still remember standing outside of Stringham’s** and listening to her remind me that I absolutely must cross my arms.

    The whole time.

    Without exception.

    Sounds crazy, I know, but recently we were out and Daughter Q. was touching things–removing things from racks, even! I remembered my mother’s rule and instructed her to keep her arms crossed. It worked wonders.

    Later, we passed by another family with a few children, and the mother was constantly nagging. “Don’t touch that. Put that back. Stop touching that. Put that down. You’re going to break that!”

    It was an almost-constant refrain.

    It dawned on me that I have no memories of my mother doing that to me.

    I’m pretty sure that is because there is more power in telling the child to do one thing, than trying to forbid a thousand things.

    Of course, Daughter Q. is a bit of a human contortionist. She can almost touch things while still technically keeping her arms crossed.

    But not quite.

    *A long time ago, I began typing up little tips and hints that I picked up from people I knew, and from books I read. I haven’t added to this list in four years! But I like to keep it. I figure I’ll print it out and give with baby shower gifts once I’m old enough to know if any of this was really wisdom.

    **Stringham’s which, sadly, was bought out by Rite Aid and no longer exists.

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  • Reply Rachel R. December 5, 2010 at 2:37 am

    One of our house rules is, “If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” (The children can quote that!) And at the store, I add that if they aren’t in a position to buy it, they don’t need to touch. (Because they see that sometimes *I* have to pick something up, to examine it more closely and determine if it meets our needs.) We were always taught to hold our hands behind our backs in the store.

    Unfortunately, none of this actually works with my children. I just spend the whole time reminding them again and again not only to not touch things, but to put their hands back behind their backs. *sigh* Handcuffs, maybe? (Just kidding!)

  • Reply Wendi December 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I really like this one! Now I just have to remember to mention it to my kiddos next time we’re out πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rahime December 1, 2010 at 5:32 am


  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts November 30, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Oh Mystie! I forgot to say that I was thinking I needed to go back and look at those old posts. I wonder if I still agree with myself! It’d be an interesting exercise…

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts November 30, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Mystie, I like that your rule protects items in your own home. I will have to think about incorporating that into my day.

    Dawn, I say that A LOT. “Look with your eyes, not with your hands!”

    Willa, Unfortunately, I am not a font of wisdom. But I tend to have good sources. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Willa November 30, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Brandy wrote:

    I’m pretty sure that is because there is more power in telling the child to do one thing, than trying to forbid a thousand things.

    So true — and for some reason it’s less disheartening for the child, too! I like the idea of childrearing tips and hope you start back up again!

  • Reply dawn November 30, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    At stores we were admonished to “look with your eyes, not with your fingers.”

    I usually have the children fold their hands, but crossing arms sounds like a good idea!

  • Reply Mystie November 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    That’s a good one! Our family rule is: If it doesn’t belong to you, if you aren’t going to buy it, don’t touch it. This also comes in handy at home and at friends’ houses, too. If I leave my crochet or coffee or paper or iPod on the table, that does not mean it is available for common use. Private property rights and all that. πŸ™‚

    I’ll have to go back and try to find your other hints. πŸ™‚

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