Ok. If you are going to judge me (out loud), just stop reading right now. Good. Now we have that cleared up, I can be relatively honest about some of the parenting pitfalls I have experienced recently.
If anyone has been smacked across the face by their kid, you know how infuriating and embarassing this is. Especially if it happens in public. In front of other moms. That you just met. That are judging you….Here’s how it went down and how I dealt with it.
So I signed my son (Toddler? Pre-schooler? Both can equally be a pain in the a$$) up for gymnastics. I thought, “Hey, after a long hard winter cooped up inside our new home with a sometimes cranky and often stinky newborn, he will LOVE running around!” It was truly the thought that counted, because not much proved to be true. He acted like a totally different person (ok, not totally but it was like all the daily tantrums happened at once) once the class started, and ignored the teachers and screamed if they talked to him. We were the only ones not singing the “Tony Chestnut” song (which I was slightly creeped out by anyways) during warmup, but off causing mischief. Fine. I can handle that.
|Teaching him a somersault in a quieter moment…|
Then came the next time to go to gymnastics. All morning, he complained that he didn’t want to go but I figured, “Once he gets there and sees the cool stuff, he will forget not wanting to go.” Nope. We sat in the lobby for a good half hour before I gave up and went home. Tantrum is an understatement. I finally packed his sweaty little body into the care and headed to the mall, figuring he got a good work out kicking and screaming. (Side note: do you force your child to go to something? How do you handle this? I even called my mom for her advice).
The next time- we actually made it in. He still acted like he chugged a fifth of Jack followed by a handful of uppers, but no huge incident. Until it came time to put his shoes on. You see, if you haven’t been through this stage (age 2 or 3), you might not know that the littlest things can set these bottle rockets off. After a brief struggle, he smacked me clear across the face. We both looked at each other, stunned, then I moved into discipline mode. (We use the Naughty Mat technique a la Super Nanny, which is just a glorified Time Out). I put him on the Naughty Mat, but he of course popped up and screamed at me. In the end, I had to literally keep putting him back in the same place until he calmed down enough to sit. Oh, and did I mention I just moved into town and all the moms were hanging out in the lobby?
Here’s the thing. I could have just packed up my kid after the slapping incident and went home, but I didn’t. I endured the incredibly painful experience of disciplining my kiddo in front of the firing squad. I realized this: as long as you aren’t abusing your kid, it isn’t anyone’s business how you parent. If someone thinks I am nuts for trying to wrangle a screaming toddler instead of exiting stage left, then so be it. They don’t know our story, or that he didn’t sleep at all last night, or that he drank bath water and is um…suffering from it.
So keep that in mind next time you see a parent toughing it out. Smile at them. Nod at them, even a surreptitious thumbs up is appreciated, because, good lord, we all need it in the middle of battle.