Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kids in Public

I fully expected a "Mother of the Year" award from the manager at Discount Tire Co after holding a somewhat coherent conversation with the technician and only yelling at the boys once. Instead of turning around to an impressed waiting room on the edge of spontaneous applause, I got chastised by a kindly old man who said I have good kids, and I shouldn't get onto them.

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

1 comment:

  1. This is great. I remember those days. Grocery shopping was always a treat (said tongue in cheek).
    Love you Mother of the Year!