Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Those parents

Yesterday, I was THAT mother, you know, the one who has a firm grip on a struggling child as she marches them along, clearly at the end of her temper. The one people tsk at because what sort of abusive parent is so rough with their child?

In my case, it was because K decided it was funny to run away from me. I had let her run around on the grass with some kids at school pickup, and when I said it was time to go, she decided it was time to run instead. I can't let that sort of behavior slide, because what happens when she decides it's funny to run away in a parking lot or crowded store? So I grabbed her around her upper arm, because she was inclined to go boneless and there's a danger of dislocating a child's elbow by pulling them by the hand too hard; a very common cause of this is by a child going boneless while a parent is holding their hand. So while a hand around the upper arm seems much rougher, it's actually a lot safer.

Anyway, I eventually got us back to the car, although it involved at least a few feet of walking while holding each child around the middle. And K lost her promised trip to Burger King because if I couldn't trust her to stay with me in public, we needed to stay home.

Today, I was one of THOSE mothers, you know, the ones who futilely try to reprimand misbehaving children while not actually backing it up. The ones who are creating the next generation of delinquents with their permissive parenting?* We were having lunch before going to buy her Halloween costume and I had let her sit in one of the comfy chairs at Panera, which she took as license to use it as a jungle gym. Meanwhile, I really desperately needed to eat at least a bit before leaving and Alec was drinking with his eyes closed, giving every impression that if I fed him just a little while longer, he would fall asleep. And chances were good that I was actually bothering more people by nagging K than she was by climbing all over her chair. I should have left immediately when I saw what her mood was and knew it at the time, but I was desperately hungry, so instead I threatened and threatened until she moved into outright defiance and deliberate provocation, at which point the Halloween costume got cancelled and we headed home, because if I couldn't trust her to listen to me in public, we had to stay home.

Only first I had to stop to mop up when I discovered I had managed squeeze juice from the juice box I was carrying all over the carseat, and then had to deal with the boneless puddle of child on the floor of the car. I feel a certain amount of pride that this is the first point in the past two days that I started yelling, which was just about as effective as it usually is, which is to say that she started laughing. I feel so much sympathy for spanking parents at times like these, but I also know that times like these are part of why I don't spank, because I don't think I want to allow myself to use violence when I'm that angry. As it is, I can't say I was terribly gentle when I pulled her up and put her in her carseat.

On the way home:

K lost tv privileges for the afternoon due to egregious seatbelt violations

My back started spasming, not doubt due to having to haul around a struggling forty pound child

I had to stop suddenly, causing my large cup of iced tea to hit the floor

K announced that she had spilled her juice

I won't even go into what it took to achieve a bath tonight. I have rarely been so happy to see bedtime come tonight. I think four may kill me.

So any guesses on how many more times we have to go through this and how many more patient explanations it will take before she finally realizes that defying me in public will result in staying home?

*And this, of course, is how a parent can never win, because if you don't discipline enough, people give you the hairy eyeball for being too permissive, and if you do discipline, you get the hairy eyeball for being too harsh and a possible abuser. Think upon this the next time you find yourself judging a parent in public: you are only seeing a brief snapshot in time of their relationship with their child. Try to be charitable.

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