January 13, 2012

Observation

I still don't mind it when she needs the comfort of me and my bed, because she still makes those little baby sounds and gurgles in her sleep. I don't remember when that stops. I mean, she's three, so I know this could be the last time I hear it. She laughed in her sleep the other morning -- she had slipped under my arm in the middle of the night again and hearing that giggle was all the best things I've ever felt. An absolute gift.

In the dentist office waiting room on Wednesday a mom couldn't get her son to put his coat on when it was time to go. He wanted to play with the big activity box thing and had no interest in anything his mom said. He was maybe three or four? And she said, "Don't make me spank you in front of these ladies. I don't think they'd like that." And I just looked down at my knitting and wished so hard I was invisible right that very moment. I hated that she brought me- a stranger- into this. Her kid didn't want to put his coat on. I deal with that every live long day. So you know, I go over to my child and just put the dang coat on. And if I have to, I physically pick them up and carry them to the car. But instead she left him, she said "bye" and she walked completely out the building and then I looked up and watched him. I wanted to tell him that he better listen to his mom, but really I wanted to hug him. And he still played until he raised his head and peeked at the door and then he ran. He ran to find her.

38 comments:

  1. Oh those kids break my heart. Yesterday I watched a mom SCREAM at her two year old for not walking fast enough. I hate the harshness and the knowing that when they leave my sight they are going home to more of the same.

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  2. I don't agree with publicly shaming your child... Buuuut I reached a point in my pregnancy where I couldn't physically make my toddler do things anymore. There were a lot more verbal commands... And threats of punishment. But I never announce punishment loudly, and I've never left a building. That said, early morning (5am) snuggles are the best, even if he has to return to his room because he never falls asleep with us.

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  3. Ah... I've been there. On both sides, (kind of). When I'm there as a witness, I remember to TRY to think that perhaps the lady is having a bad day. Maybe the dentist totally wigs her out. Because on another day, gentle old me might be the one losing my stuff and yelling at all of my kids to just STOP and BEHAVE.

    Because we've all done something... Anything that another mother would look at and be like, woah. And even if it never happened in public? I'm positive even the most gentle among us has lost it once or twice.

    That woman may do that constantly. But it helps my heart a little to pretend maybe she slipped. And that her capacity for grace is having a very human day.

    Because really, I pray that others will think the same of me next time.

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    1. nice response, I thought I was an ogre. My son was very easy at that age. I never had a problem like that. Then my grandson (my husband is older than me by 20 years, so I am a grandma at 37), well my grandson is ...independent. He rolls over his mom and other grandma. Me, it has taken more verbal gymnastics than I care to admit. I have had to be more creative. With blended family issues, I can't physically make him put on a jacket, etc. because it "looks" like I am not being fair to my "step" grandchild. argh.

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  4. Oh sob... I think we have all been mean to our kids at sometime or another, but to walk away goes beyond that.

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  5. Sometimes I leave Libby like that. I have a crying baby in my arms, and she won't come with me, so I leave. But never out of the building. I go to where she can't see me. Although, she usually just watches me go, then goes back to playing. The girl has no fear!
    My heart breaks for that little boy though too, don't spank him. don't bring strangers into your discipline. ugh. this parenting thing is hard.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one, Kim. I don't do it often, but with 4 kids who are 6 and under, sometimes I have to pull the "Alright, I'm gone..." card. Like you, I get out of their line of sight, but I don't let them get out of mine.

      But the rest does make me sad...

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  6. sometimes, I wonder what goes in behind the doors if people say things like that in public? gah.

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  8. my daughter {3} still sneaks in my room every night, and in rythm finds the small of my back where the whole of her back fits in just so. Last night I wrestled the thoughts that I should perhaps get her out of that habit, but then I knew for the rest of my life, I will miss that perfectly placed warm. So instead, i sank into her and the dance us mothers and daughters face...the loving and the pulling. That's the whole issue I find, even with this boy you mention. As a mom, when to love and when to pull your child along in their journey just a bit.

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    1. Tara - that is beautiful and so true - when to love and when to pull your child along a little - pretty much sums up the whole thing we call "parenting"

      Two things I always try to remember when I'm struggling with my little ones are to never threaten anything I won't actually follow through on and to never humiliate them. The first thing can undermine my position of authority and leader in their life and the second can undermine my position of friend and protector in their life, not to mention what it does to my children's own self-worth.

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  9. No judging. Just observation. I've been all those people, including the boy. I mean, I did have some thoughts about how Id handle it differently but who knows if any of us does it right or wrong.

    Steph

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    1. I don't think any of us do it right all the time, we all have moments we wish we could do-over. My heart was smote a bit when I read this post at first - for just that thing, those moments from yesterday that I'd like a second chance at. This observation was a good reminder to me to put those two things I always need to remember back in the forefront of my mind.

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  10. A couple weekends ago, I saw a little girl in the cart at Hobby Lobby ask, "Mom, what does H-O-M-E spell?" to which her mother replied angrily, "I am not talking to you right now!" It broke my heart to hear, especially considering the word she wanted to know.

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  11. I totally agree - the mother shouldn't have threatened the little boy, and I'm definitely against spanking. But I have walked away from my son in similar situations with plenty of warning, "I know you want to stay here and play. I can tell you're having a lot of fun, but it's time to go to the car. I need you to come with me. Okay. I'm walking toward the door, etc."

    I have a sixteen month old as well as a two and a half year old, so I can't physically haul both of them to the car. The mother wasn't locking him in a room. The boy had every opportunity to go with her (like he did).

    Thank you Jen! I agree, I hope when I'm having a difficult time other mothers will be empathetic and nonjudgmental. There's nothing worse than struggling to hold it together in public and have a set of glaring eyes on you.

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    1. I definitely wasn't glaring- I kept my head down the whole time, but felt like I was put in a very awkward and uncomfortable position. Like I was really trying to be invisible, like I shouldn't have been there at all. It felt intimate, I guess. If that makes sense?

      Steph

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    2. This spring I had my (at the time) 3yo and 18mo leaving the doctor's office while Chris handled the 13yo getting a very much unwanted shot. It was raining, and Zach wanted to go back inside with Dad and big sister. So he laid down on the pavement. The wet rainy pavement. I contemplated walking away, decided too dangerous. Contemplated picking him up and physically dragging him to the car. Too dangerous. So I stood there, in the rain, with the baby in my arms, and let him just lay there in the ground. A very kind bystander lady offered to hold my daughter so I could deal with him, and I politely told her, "No thank you. He will eventually get tired of being wet and cold." She probably thought I was a moron, but sure enough, 30 seconds later, he stood up and walked calmly with me to the car. I seriously thought I was going to lose it in those 2-3 minutes haha! Funny now, but not so funny then.

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  12. So sad. Better ways to handle that situation.

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  13. I was that mom last night trying to get Jessica to just.GO.to.sleep. Then I was the mom who just scooped her up let her sleep with us when she was fighting sleep again in the middle of the night. Even though it makes me not sleep and I hurt all over from having her practically lay on top of me.

    You have encouraged me these last 4 years since I began reading your blog...in my parenting, my faith and how to be a friend...just wanted you to know that:)


    XOXO
    Jen

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  14. I have been that mom, and as the rest of my kids have come along, I have changed (thankfully so!). My mantra: there is nothing I have to do or nowhere I have to be that is more important than being kind to my children. Sometimes I fail miserably, but for the most part it has helped me to stop yelling and stop being an irrational jerk to my people.

    If my son doesn't want to put his coat on, I won't fight him. But I do put the coat (and hat and mittens, too) under my arm as I walk out the door. He will get cold, that's a natural consequence, and it provides us with a teachable moment. And with my people, it usually takes only once or twice to get the message.

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  15. These moments in time, really, these observation periods when I'm not in the thick of the fight, the heat of the moment with my kids, probably teach me more about who I want to be than the actual moments I'm immersed in the battle of wills. And so does this moment shared. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Just how I was feeling about this!! I read today that "there are many ways up the mountain...." I think most of us are just doing the very best we can as wives & mothers & friends &...as His, and learning lots along the way!

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  16. In those situations I want to hug the mom as well as the child. Raising children is such a hard endeavor...but we can make it easier and enjoyable, but it has to be a choice and often we don't know how because our parents didn't do it that way either.

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    1. Yes, this. I want to hug the mom, too. I've been that mom--powerless and exhausted after a long day of work, just wanting to be home and grasping for straws knowing that I'm not doing it right.

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  17. I took my youngest to target the other day. my two year old daughter. she was dressed so cute and had received many compliments on how adorable she is. and then as we were walking hand in hand we passed another mother and her 4{ish?} year old son. he was crying & making a scene. as they approached us his mother said to him "look. see the pretty girl? she's going to stare at you. what will she think of you crying?"

    I wanted to tell that mom that my daughter, my beautiful daughter that we are trying to adopt is the most non-judgmental person you will ever meet... and that she doesn't stare when others are in pain. she looks away. because she has experienced pain I will never know...

    so next time you want to shame your son... please don't use my daughter to do it.

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  18. Yes! Please do not bring ME into your disciplinary ways, I have enough of my own, thanks! ;)

    I've walked away from my kids too, to get them to come along but I've NEVER and never will, embarrassed them by saying I was going to spank them in front of others. Obviously it was an empty threat, which makes it all the worse...

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  19. Oh my heart. Reading that situation from your point of view, as a bystander rather than a participant, really allowed me to see the bigger picture. I've certainly been that parent, no doubt about it. I need to pause, like this, sometimes, and realize how my babies feel in those moments, too. Thanks for opening my eyes a bit today.

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  20. when I was a young mom of 21, I had a very strong willed first child. He still is that way. This post made me think of myself way back then. I was impatient and didn't realize what I sounded like until I heard another mom do it in a store.

    I felt so guilty and ashamed of what I must have sounded like to my young baby boy at that age of this boy.

    I learned a lot in 11 years.I'm still learning.
    Ev

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  21. Ah, yes, the lesson of observing others. I remember one time (pre-kids) when I grabbed lunch with a few coworkers at McDonalds. While we were sitting there, two moms were attempting to have lunch as their kids ate/played/fought. One little girl was having a major melt-down while her mom held her baby sister. It was chaotic, but I watched one mom ask her friend to hold the baby. She then gently walked her daughter outside of the restaurant, knelt down to her level, and talked to her. She didn't ignore her or yell at her. She gave her what she needed...attention. I can not tell you how many times I replay that moment in my mind -- even now, 8 years later. There is so much we can learn by watching others -- both good and band.

    In the end, we are all just trying to do better. I think that's your point here. This gave you an opportunity to observe, reflect, and perhaps confirm (or even change) what works for you and your family.

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  22. f*ck. this just punched me in the gut. and i'm not sure if it is because of that boy or because i see a little too much of myself in that woman, albeit in different clothing. i don't spank and never threaten any kind of physical discipline. but i definitely use a tone of voice that would make me pause if i heard another woman do it. and i definitely use scare tactics at times. and sometimes, i even do the worst: i don't follow through. oh, those empty threats. hanging around my shoulders....making life harder.
    we're all doing our best, aren't we? it's just that sometimes our best is pure shite.

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  23. It's good to observe those moments. I tried to read it as though I were watching from the outside too - remembering that I might be that woman one day (my little one is 6 months old) - but that I might be able to do it differently sometimes too.

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  24. It is funny, when you see it in other people, it is such a cringe-worthy moment in so many ways. For the kids, for the frustrated parent, for yourself (myself).

    Cringe. That's why we need each other so badly. Women need other women, to learn examples from on how (or how not) to behave, act, react, respond.

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