In the moment, I really thought the most loving thing to do was call out Joseph for his behavior -- "Hey! Don't stand on the arm of that chair! You'll fall and break your head open on their nice, clean floor!!" -- but maybe I was just underestimating his innate cherub goodness and power to self-correct.
What do people want to see of parenting in public? I really never know. I field offense if I leave a wake of broken mayonnaise jars and empty banana peels (insert soundbite: "But I want to eat it NOW!"), or if I repeat stern words and slap a few reaching hands.
And yet, if I'm shopping without the kids, I somehow forget all of this. I see loud, crazy kids with a seemingly unaffected parent, and think, "Her kids are horrible! Why isn't she disciplining them?!" Then I see quiet, well-behaved kids getting punished for a seemingly minor offense, and think: "Her kids are wonderful! Why is she disciplining them?!"
I've adapted a kind of subterfuge public discipline approach (when my glaring, you-know-how-to-behave-in-public-now-do-it look doesn't work). Quick glance around, clear the area of observers, and then slap the hand reaching for the mayonnaise jar.
My friend, Amy, has an uncanny ability to put a positive spin on yelling at your kids. If she were in Discount Tire trying to hold a conversation while a kid was standing on the arm of a chair, she would just pull out a catchy song about how lucky the world is to have chairs for sitting, and the manager would join in to sing along, and then a flash mob would stream into the waiting room waving jazz hands, and then Joe would laugh and sit on his butt, beaming at the opportunity to obey this wonderful woman.
|Discount Tire Co employees gathering to present me with the "Mother of the Year" Award|