I have moments where I think this blog isn't necessary. Usually it's during a time when things are relatively harmonious with my own kids, and with the families I'm around. I begin to be lulled into complacency about how parents interact with their kids.
And then I'm reminded.
I'll be out in public somewhere--the grocery store, a restaurant, the swimming pool. I'll see a conflict between parent and child escalating. I see grownups acting not-so-grownup. Most recently, it was in the restroom of a family restaurant. Thank God my kids weren't with me.
A mom came in with a 3- or 4-year old boy. She was using her "commanding" voice, telling him to go into the restroom stall to do his business. Apparently, he was resisting. Seconds later, I hear her raising her voice: "Get in there and poop!" Which was absurd enough for me--because if the kid was scared or shy (or constipated, even), or whatever was making him not want to go into the bathroom stall, it was hard to imagine that being yelled at would help matters. And then, faster than I could say "Uh oh," I heard the whack, presumably on the bottom. Again, she said, "Now get in there and poop!"
My mind was racing. Thinking about how I might handle the situation, if it were me and my kids. Wishing this mom could calm the heck down. Wanting, so badly, to say something to her. Wanting to tell her to read my blog!
But you can't. Because if it went the wrong way, she could take it out on him even more. Plus, it's none of my business, right? She might think spanking is just the best. Even if a stranger in a public restroom doesn't.
I can imagine how this mom must have felt. She was in her work clothes, she was probably tired, probably she just wanted to get back out to her table and finish her dinner and get home. Who knows what kind of ridiculous kid-crazy behavior had led up to this? I can certainly relate to having a child get on my last, frazzled nerve. I know the lunacy that is parenting, and parenting a preschooler, in particular. Evidently, he did get in there and poop, and I saw him playing with a balloon about 10 minutes later. All's well that ends well, right?
All I know is that she seemed like she was losing it, there in the bathroom. I wondered about her, whether that was a "worst" parenting moment or a pretty typical one. For me the sad thing is that I also believe her kid was losing. In that moment, he lost the chance to have control over his body and feelings, and to have them considered by someone who can help and teach. In a way, for a minute, he lost his mom. Who knows what the take-away lesson was, from his perspective?