So here’s the scene. I am in a new dress sitting in a tent on a pier next to a nuclear submarine. I am in the back row, next to the last seat. Besides my husband and children, I only know one other person there and he is sitting out on the submarine. This is because my friend is stepping down as commander and we have been invited to the ceremony. Everyone is quiet. Directly behind me the entire crew of said sub is standing at attention.
Beside me is Ezra. He looks absolutely adorable. He is dressed in a little sweater vest and cords. Jay is on the other side of me in a suit. Sawyer is asleep in his arms.
We are being asked to rise for presenting of the colors. The band starts.
Ezra is 4 – just turned 4 two weeks before, as a matter of fact. He is also exhausted. We got into our hotel at about midnight. It is 10am. From the look on his little face I can tell he is weighting how much he dares test me. I can also tell he is making his decision to act out. I glare at him in warning.
Then he covers his ears starts to whine. He’s not a big fan of the National Anthem, I see. At least not on a chilly morning with less sleep than he’s used to – and he is never been a fan of loud noises. Drums included. I pick him up. He is heavy and my boots have high heels.
I can tell he has picked up on the fact that I am not to be messed with right now. Unfortunately, Ezra sees this as more of a challenge to which he must rise than a warning he must heed.
I am doing my very best to make sure he is still and quiet. There are other children there, yes, but of course they ARE being still and quiet. Ezra is quiet so far, but he is not still. He is still covering his ears, even though the band has stopped. He is squirming and totally distracting me. I am leaning over whispering platitudes and threats in his ear. This means that I cannot pay attention to what is going on. I am afraid it will soon become distracting to others. I am beginning to get exasperated.
The response is immediate. He stops squirming instantly and looks at me with longing in his little eyes.
I’ve got him now.
So I take it a step further and whisper quietly in my most firm and convincing voice. I give him a choice. He can be still and earn THREE Batman stickers starting right now. OR he can keep acting up and be taken out of the tent. I say this last part with full ominous warning – never being too specific about what I would do once I got him out there. I couldn’t do something that would make him yell and cry and disrupt the ceremony, of course. But HE doesn’t know that.
As a show of good faith I reach into my bag and pull out a sheet of stickers. He has lost the defiant look that precedes a direct challenge and is checking out the page. He instantly starts to pick out his three stickers. No, no. I hold up one finger. He is going to have to earn the other two. I’m milking this as long as I can. I put one sticker on the back of his hand. He rubs it, grins and sits back in his chair totally placated.
I smile in both relief and a bit of satisfaction at my quick parental thinking. I grabbed those stickers as an afterthought just before we walked out the door yesterday never thinking for a moment that they would be so useful.
I sit back able to pay attention for the first time just as my friend is introduced and starts his speech. He, of course, does an excellent job. I am glad to be here with my family. This is going to be a good day.
Who would have ever guessed? Crisis adverted by the cunning use of Batman stickers.