We went to Target a couple weeks ago, and I made a terrible, terrible mistake.
I forgot to use the 100% foolproof magic trick for getting out of Target alive, i.e. with no whining or tantrums.
The reason? I was in a hurry.
What Happens When You Hurry a 6-Year-Old
It was supposed to be a quick stop to find a birthday party gift for one of Abby’s friends turning six.
In the aisle with all the kids’ craft supplies, Ty pointed to a make-your-own jewelry set for $12.
“Do you think your friend would like this?” he asked.
Abby’s eyes were on the $2 sticker books on the lowest shelf.
“Look! These are all princess stickers!”
I picked up the bead set and held it in front of Abby. “Those sticker books are kind of cheap for a gift. How about something like this?”
She picked up a sticker book. “I want to get her this.”
I checked the time on my phone. We still had to run home, eat lunch, feed the baby, and get Abby dressed for the party. We were in danger of being way late to the party if we didn’t hurry. “No, that’s too cheap. Let’s get this.”
I threw the bead set in the hand basket and walked towards the gift wrap aisle.
Clearly, I’m an excellent parent under time constraints.
Abby didn’t follow.
I turned back. “Let’s go.” And I kept walking.
She gave in and shuffled up behind us.
With the wall of gift bags in front of us, I said, “Can you pick a color bag that you think she’ll like?”
“I don’t want to.”
I turned to face Abby. “You don’t want to? Just pick out a bag.”
“How about this pink one? Or this one with polka dots?” Ty asked.
We tried to get her to pick a bag about 20 more times, with no success. Because we discounted her opinion on which gift to get, she no longer felt safe sharing what she thought.
I knew I’d screwed up. But we had no time.
“We’re getting this one,” I said, picking up the pink bag and starting back towards the front of the store.
“No, I wanted to pick one out!”
My jaw dropped. “Abby, I’ve spent the last 10 minutes trying to get you to pick a bag. You weren’t interested, so I picked one.”
“But now I want to!” We were approaching a full-on meltdown, but I refused to give in when she’d been so surly.
“No. You had your chance. You just stood there. It’s too late now.”
From Meltdown to Hysterics
She cried the whole ride home. When we turned the music up one notch, she screamed that it was too loud. When I rolled down my window to get some fresh air and hopefully some fresh patience along with it, she cried even harder.
By the time we got home, everyone’s stress level was pegged to the top.
But my girl was in hysterics, and I knew she needed help to calm down.
She laid on the living room carpet, her thin frame shaking with sobs. Ty and I followed her, sitting on the couch facing her.
“Abby, take some deep breaths with me,” I said.
“I wanted to pick out the bag.”
“We gave you several chances to pick out the bag. You just stood there and pouted,” Ty said.
“No, I didn’t.”
I offered a hug.
She just laid there and cried.
No matter what we said, she wouldn’t calm down. And I was getting more and more frustrated.
“Abby,” Ty said. “How about you go to your room until you calm down?”
“No!” she shrieked.
“I think you’ll feel better if you get some space and take some deep breaths,” I said.
Ty stood up. “C’mon girl, let’s go.”
Ty held out his hand.
She didn’t take it.
He bent down and picked her up.
Ty carried Abby upstairs to her bedroom to lay her on the bed.
I heard the door shut, a thud as she jumped off the bed, and footsteps running to her door.
“Abby,” Ty said. In a calm, soothing voice. Where was this man getting his patience?
Her sobs were muffled by the door.
“Abby,” he said. “Sit down on the other side of the door. I’m sitting on this side.”
Were her sobs slowing down?
“Sit down with me,” he said. So calm.
“Are you sitting now?”
I couldn’t hear the answer.
“Will you take some deep breaths with me? I’ll count us down, okay? 1…2…3.”
Ty took a deep breath.
“Let’s do another one. 1…2…3.”
A pause, then he started talking more quietly. So quietly I couldn’t make out what he was saying.
Abby said something back.
The door opened.
First, I saw Ty walk down the stairs. Then Abby behind him, her eyes puffy and red.
“How about cheese and crackers?” Ty asked her.
“Okay,” she said.
He turned to me. “We’re getting a snack.” He smiled.
I looked at Abby, and somehow, she was smiling too.
That man has magic in his veins.
My Child, the Prophet
After Ty coaxed Abby out of her meltdown and filled her belly with a snack, we all sat around and talked about what had happened. No sobbing, no whining.
Abby told us how she felt, we told her how we felt, and we all listened to each other.
Because of Ty.
He got thrown into this parenting gig when Abby was three – not a terribly charming age. On top of which the poor kid was still learning to split her life between two separate houses.
But Abby was smitten with him, from the very beginning.
I’ve loved watching them grow closer over the years. She’s always there to help him in the kitchen or the garage, and he’s always there to make her laugh.
As Abby loves to say, “Ty can fix anything!”
Turns out she’s right.
About an hour later as we were all getting ready to head out the door for the party, Abby walked up to me and Ty.
She held a folded piece of construction paper out to me.
“It’s for both of you,” she said.
I took it from her and opened it up, with Ty looking over my shoulder.
We were quiet as we read it. Then I looked up and smiled at my sweet girl.
Abby said, “Kneel down.”
So we did.
She kissed me on the top of my head, then Ty. “The card comes with that too.”
A Gift From the Heart for Stepfathers on Father’s Day – A Free Printable
Last year for Father’s Day, I wanted to find something meaningful for Abby to give Ty. Something that didn’t come from the store. Something to honor the special bond they have.
Pinterest to the rescue!
I had no trouble finding a ton of super cute printables and card ideas for Father’s Day.
But searching for “stepdad” yielded a bunch of grown-up sounding cards.
And narrowing the search to “stepdad,” “Father’s Day,” and “printable”?
So I made something myself. A printable interview called “My Stepdad.”
Abby loved answering the questions, and then we wrapped it up.
Later, when Ty was reading what Abby said about him, he brushed his thumb under his eye a couple times. I doubt Abby noticed, but I did.
Today, I’m sharing this Father’s Day printable for young kids to give their stepdads. (There’s even a regular dad version if that fits your family better.)
Stepdads and single dads and all the other kinds of dads of the world – Happy Father’s Day!
Get Your Free Printable
- Get the gift. You’ll get the stepdad and dad printables, plus join my weekly newsletter! Just click here to get it and subscribe.
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock† would be ideal.
- Interview your child and write down their adorable answers. The second page is blank for your child to draw a picture or write a message. Enjoy!
Before you go, get my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear
For more Father’s Day gift ideas, check out:
How do you celebrate Father’s Day with your kids? Share your story in a comment below!