I want to be the lioness of my family, fearless and fearsome by Lauren Lawless
It’s a sunny, midweek afternoon at the farm. We have fed the goats, stroked a chicken and eaten lunch (probably a relative of aforementioned chicken) before heading to the playground. However, all of this loveliness pales into insignificance because someone else’s snot nosed kid has just pushed over my little darling in the sand pit. Shit is about to go down. I mean, in my head a montage reel begins to play; whip up my child and place her safely to one side, I approach the perpetrator of this heinous crime and pick him up by the dinosaur themed waterproof, I whisper something cutting and witty through gritted teeth and punt him into the pig enclosure. Then the outraged mother approaches me. She’s probably slack and constantly on Facebook (unlike me...ahem) and wasn’t paying attention. I grow to an enormous size, not unlike the Hulk and roar into her face about respect and discipline. She utters a stammering apology as I fly off into the sky, straightening my halo, she stares open mouthed and all the other parents cheer. In reality I’m glaring in to space while cuddling my daughter-who at this stage has made a full recovery and is trying to escape my ‘tender’ embrace.
So how does one approach such a situation without being shunned by polite society? In this day and age we embrace progressive parenting, we love and nurture. We attend classes on how to feed, massage, sing and sign, meditate and hypnobirth our offspring to their full potential yet discipline is a taboo subject. As any good parent knows we want to preserve our children’s dignity and confidence, we don’t smack like previous generations and recently it’s become popular to ignore the bad and praise the good. In lots of cases this may work, in my house is doesn’t. Accountability and respect is key and I ‘punish’ with the removal of toys and treats. This works for us and I am totally supportive of everyone’s right to parent how they feel is best. HOWEVER, what about when your child’s bad behaviour begins to border on violent? When it impacts other children and ruins their experiences?
Every parent has a moment where they want the ground to swallow them up because of their child’s behaviour. Tantrums are very natural as is the classic poo explosion, toy snatch, the first time they clout a peer and the inevitable swearing outburst (mummy never says the ‘F’ word...well rarely) So it is important to try to remain kind and understanding of each other during a preschool aged clash of personalities. The question is how do I protect my daughters and their expectation of other people when they have a horribly negative, sometimes painful interaction with a child? You would hope that the other parent would step in but if they don’t, how do I handle this situation?
Personally I go for the red and silent approach. I try not to give myself a hard time for my perceived spinelessness. In that dark period post conflict were I analyse my every move and word in case I was a monster or a moron, I reason that the other party is of course, about 25 years younger and 3ft shorter than me. I have to remember that a toddler brain has its own reasoning and drives so I plump for being polite and very ‘British’ about the situation, embarrassed for everyone involved. I would like to be the sort of mother who takes control and waits patiently until the other parent grovels appropriately. I want to be the lioness of my family, fearless and fearsome when it comes to my girls but I can’t make someone else discipline their child and I can’t do the admonishment myself.
I don’t want my daughters to believe that it’s ok to be for another person to put their hands on them and there will be no consequence. I also don’t want them to grow up to explode at people in public for the smallest misdemeanour (my straight-laced, uptight alter ego would be mortified!) Is it down to us as parents to remain vigilant or is the ‘pig punt’ as I’ve lovingly nicknamed my imaginary retribution reasonable? I mean it isn’t, but maybe.....