I feel like my southern born and bred great aunt Suzann. I hear my own voice, repeating her words regarding the lack of discipline and common courtesy with children.
All that’s missing is her southern drawl and lack of humor.
Maybe I’m just getting older, less tolerant and more sensitive. I see it in all avenues of day-to-day living; at the bookstore, library, restaurant, grocery store, the movies, even the doctor’s office.
And when did parents start negotiating with children? Maybe I’m just old school. Negotiating with my parents was never an option. I cringe with the reality that I have officially become my mother.
We parents need to remind ourselves of just that: they are children; we are the adults and should be in control. We’re not here to be their friend, nor bend our own rules and morals to make them happy. We’re here to make sure they make good choices, keep their grades up, honor a commitment, treat others with respect, acknowledge friendly gestures, eat healthy, sleep enough and don't spend too much time in front of a TV or computer screen, to name a few.
If they get upset because things don’t go their way, get over it. The sooner they realize that reality, the better. Within a few seconds, minutes, or even days (especially when they want something) their attitude soon changes. If my kids are angry with me, which is quite often, bring it on. Go upstairs and cool off. Bravely come down when you’re ready and we’ll gladly start over. In the meantime, I’ll catch up on an e-mail, start dinner, chat with a friend, enjoy a much-needed glass of Sauvignon Blanc or unload groceries.
Ever see children tossing mass quantities of unhealthy food in a grocery carriage, completely unnoticed by a cell phone distracted mother? If there’s an objection, the child throws a fit and continues straight through the canned food aisle. It’s moments like this I bite my tongue and pretend to read a bogus label.
I thrive on predicting the mother’s next move. I continue on, thanking God my kids aren’t little anymore and eventually ponder over nonfat or whole milk. Alas! There’s the misbehaved kid with even more garbage in the carriage, decorated with green lips from the massive lollipop teetering out of his mouth. That’ll teach ‘em!
The newest victims of this behavior are the senior citizens that openly blurt out their objection to little Tommy’s attitude. You know it’s bad when seniors want absolutely nothing to do with your kid.
I remember when NO meant NO. I’m not afraid to discipline my children or their friends. The rules are across the board, for all young militia in my house. Once the rules are established, support the decision and follow through. Don’t threaten a consequence if you’re not prepared to back it up.
There’s a twisted form of satisfaction that arises when I catch the wanna-be Eddie Haskells trying to explain their motive. I may have been born at night, but not last night. This may surprise you, but I was young too and full of “spit and vinegar.” Guess what kids, I know what you’re thinking before you do.
Or how about the infamous interrupted conversation with a close friend? We’ve all experienced that. A school-aged child suddenly interrupts with a non-emergency, demanding all attention, immediately. Once your friend is distracted and pulled away, getting them back to their happy place seems impossible.
You make a mental note that any adult conversations will have to be done on a long walk down Main Street or a quiet dining table… no high chairs, no menus with pictures and definitely no crayons.
My mother wouldn’t tolerate this behavior. All it took from her was a raised eyebrow and understandable message given through clenched teeth. If we didn’t learn the first time, she graciously gave us a toilet brush, broom, rake, hedge clippers or even the occasional thick, two-finger whack in the head. We eventually got the message.
Now that I am a mother of three adolescents, I can appreciate my parents chosen form of discipline. I’ve perfected the art of speaking with clenched teeth, have become a connoisseur of toilet cleansers and know to use gloves when raking… and my children will, too.
This column originally ran in Suffield Patch.