If you follow my blog, you are aware of some things that terrify me. To recap, here they are, not in any kind of order: small spaces, clowns, the dentist, water over my head, attending children’s birthday parties and last but not least, having to discipline my children in public.
Let me clarify. I’m not actually terrified of having to do it. I’m terrified by the judgement while I’m doing it.
I’ve done it. I’ve hauled the screaming kid out of the store. Done the one knee, mom voice, stare down. I’ve even done the wrist grab. But no matter what you do, there are always going to be eyes on you because your child is no doubt making some God awful noise and losing their minds. You can’t ignore a car alarm when it’s going off, can you? How about an air horn? How about a “warning there’s a asteroid about to hit the planet, wiping out civilization as we know it” siren? Nope and my kid doing a Linda Blair in a shopping cart is no exception either.
But we as parents HAVE to deal with it and you know what? There’s always going to be that person who is silently thinking they would be handling it another way or the person silently hoping that their supply of condoms at home don’t break.
The thought of that is scary, especially when you are in the company of people that you enjoy the company of, the people that you’ll probably be seeing again.
Here’s what goes through my mind after I’ve initiated whatever form of discipline I’ve chosen… or has chosen me.
“Oh God, they think I’m a bad parent because my child was acting out.”
“Oh God, they think I’m a bad parent because of how I handled the situation.”
“Oh God, I said the wrong thing. I wasn’t patient enough.”
“Oh God, this has been a horrible day for all of us. Please don’t judge me on how I just acted. That’s not the norm for us. Today has just been so long.”
I’ve had this fear and these thoughts since I started having to discipline my son.
It’s like being naked. When your child is acting perfect, you have the clothes of perfect parenting on. When your child is making poor choices, i.e. running from you into the street or trying to gouge out another child’s eyes, you can feel naked. The truth of the situation is seen, you AND your child still have some hurdles to get over. The race isn’t over Juda.
I’ve been blessed with an incredible circle of friends, who also have children, that, when I’ve voiced these fears, have reminded me that we are all in this boat together and none of us has a compass. I’m so thankful for those friends and acquaintances.
As I hope you are thankful for this blog telling you:
We are all feeling naked when we are out in the world with our children. They represent us, our genes, our personalities, our hopes. We all want to be accepted for who we are and so we want our children too. The only flaw? Our children are children and their parents are human, naked, scared humans.
So let’s make a pact parents, if you see me out in the world disciplining, please try to remember I feel completely exposed and miserable and I’ll try to remember you feel the same way, if I see you.