Today I was at a bus stop waiting to meet my hub. I had to refill my debit card for the bus system, so I went to the same newsstand that I always go to. The middle-aged lady who works there has decided to adopt me as her friend. This newsstand is quite interesting — it’s run by a sweet lady who looks like she could be one of our church-going mamas, but they sell really trashy magazines. I like to pretend that it’s not her choice or her fault and that she just works there and that she ignores the semi-porn men’s magazines on prominent display.
Anyway, today it was really hot. So, when I refilled my card, she asked me to sit for awhile and rest. I took her up on this offer because a) it was really hot, b) I needed to rest, and c) I had arrived early and my hub wouldn’t be there for a little while. So, we sat and chatted with whoever passed by. All the little ladies kept asking me how far along I was and if it was a boy or girl — the typical pregnant questions. Then, another pregnant lady walked by with her daughter, who I assume was about 8. They all said: “Look! Another pregnant lady! How sweet!” (I think I’ve mentioned before that pregnant ladies are queens here.) That lady and her daughter went to the newsstand to make a purchase. Apparently, the daughter wanted something else and the mother said no. Now, where I come from, that’s it. And whining won’t work. And if you pitch a fit in public, the consequences are severe.
But that’s where I come from.
The little girl’s fit escalated from whining to crying and from crying to screaming. At this point, another lady who was sitting with us said: “Oh, how sad!” (My thought: Good! They recognize that this kid is acting like a big brat! They are supporting the mom!) Then she said, “I ought to buy that little girl what she wants and then she’ll stop crying.” My ears did a double-take. Say what? She pitches a royal fit and they think she should get what she wants? Then, these ladies started criticizing the mom. At this point, I looked over and saw the little girl take her mother’s hand and bite the heck out of it. I wanted to put the little girl over my knee and spank her. (Yes, I believe in spanking. You would believe in spanking this little girl if you saw her bite her mama with all of her might. I wouldn’t be surprised if she drew blood.) Although the ladies by me didn’t see the biting, they did see the rest of the fit and continued to critique the mom. And so I realized…. I’m going to be very unpopular in a few months.
I know at first when Bean arrives, I’ll be unpopular with everyone around me because I won’t dress her in 100 layers and 15 blankets. (Old Wives’ Tale #1: “Any breeze or gust of cold air or shiver will result in illness. Around babies and children all windows must stay closed. Fans are death traps. Don’t even get me started on the irreversable damage air conditioning can do!”) Why won’t I dress my child as if we are in the middle of a January blizzard? Because she’ll be born in July. That’s why.
After I pass this hurdle of listening to everyone telling me that my child is cold (yes, the sweat on her brow is an indication of a chill, I’m sure…), then we’ll enter the phase of discipline. I don’t think I’m going to be an over-controlling mom. I think my expectations will be reasonable. I’ll expect things like obeying me the first time, not being a little terror, not lying, choosing to do right over wrong, and not biting me. If she chooses to disobey, I’ll help her correct her actions with appropriate reactions. This may be time out. It may be a swat on her hiney. If she hauls off and bites me with all she’s got, it’ll be a big swat on her hiney and then I’ll tell her daddy & he’ll probably spank her, too.
At that point, I figure that all of our neighbors and the women at the bus stops will run us out of town. But first, I think they’ll buy Bean ice cream.
Why am I babbling on about this? I’m realizing lately how much I care about what other people think. I want to fit in and be accepted. I want people I know and people I don’t know to see me and think “good person.” But, in this area of child discipline, I differ too far from the culture in my city. And, it would be unloving of me to not discipline my child. I could meet her every immediate want and desire and say it was out of love (not out of making my life easier), but in the long run, it would be the worst thing I could do for her. If instead I do my best to help her learn right from wrong and learn to control her own behavior, then I am giving her a better gift for the long term. I know, I know…. discipline is going to be harder than I think. But just because it is hard doesn’t mean I can shy away from giving it.
I actually think it’ll be hardest for me to know the right level of discipline. I don’t want to control Bean’s every move or come down too hard when she makes mistakes. However, I don’t think I’m unreasonable to expect her to accept my answer of “no.” She can be unhappy, she will probably even whine some, but screaming and crying and biting and stomping her feet — unacceptable.
Now it’s easy to say that I’ll discipline her no matter what people think. But, I know that when I am the woman at the bus stop telling my daughter “no” and I see the glares from people around me, it won’t be so simple. I only hope in that moment that I’ll make the choice that is ultimately loving for Bean instead of the simple quick fix.