One of my few faults is that I can be a teensy weensy bit judgmental. My dad always used to tell me that there's a difference between being judgmental and just making judgment calls. Basically what he meant is that in order to be a person of any character whatsoever, it is necessary for us to make judgments about what is right and what is wrong, what we agree with and what we don't. This has served me well over the years, but I've always had a problem walking the fine line between making judgment calls and just being judgmental.
An area that has always been difficult for me in this regard is judging how strangers parent their children. Having a baby has opened my eyes on just how wrong I was in so many of my judgments of other parents, much like how being a waitress has made me more lenient with servers at restaurants.
I try not to say things like, "Oh I'll never do _____" because I know that statements like those tend to come back and bite a big huge chunk out of my behind. Want some examples? "I'll never give up on breastfeeding." "I'll never let my child sleep in my bed." "I'll never be one of those pregnant ladies who gain 10 pounds of baby weight and 20 pounds of Taco Bell weight." I could go on. But I won't because it's depressing.
At the risk of tempting fate, I am about to put forth one such statement. I will never allow my children to misbehave in stores at such a level that it causes physical destruction to said store.
I was at Kohls the other day because my "fun money" was burning a hole in my pocket. I found an adorable Easter outfit for Lucas and a cute top for myself, which is unrelated to my story but exciting nonetheless. As I was waiting in line to check out, a girl I'd peg at about 7 or 8 got in line behind me with her mom and grandma. I wasn't paying much attention until I heard an ear-splitting shriek pierce the air.
"WHY can't I get that dress mommy? I want that dress! You said if I was good I could have that dress!!!" wailed the much-to-old-for-this-nonsense child. And then she proceed to push on the rope partition that showed where to get in line so hard that the posts wobbled. She was hanging on them and melting down about dress her mother would not buy for her.
Let me stop for a minute. If this were my child, I would have taken her firmly by the arm, given my purchases and wallet to my mother so she could check out for me and swiftly guided my daughter out the door and given her a stern talking to, along with a punishment proportionate to the behavior.
This mother, on the other hand, chose the opposite approach: ignore. While her daughter proceeded to swing on the ropes and knock down the posts, all the while screaming like some demon from The Exorcist, she simply said in a very bored and distracted tone, "Ava are you being rotten?"
As if that weren't bad enough, the grandma piped up, "No she's not being rotten! She deserves that dress for being such a sweet little thing." (No exaggeration - that was what she said verbatim.)
(Meanwhile, the lone cashier is helplessly watching the embarrassing scene unfold, her eyes pleading with someone to do something.)
So yes, Ava, you were being rotten. But it's because your mom and grandma were being rotten, too. They have spoiled you into a sense of entitlement, and they do not put your bad behavior in check.
Now I am painfully aware that it is not possible to control your child's behavior every second of every day. But I believe that your child learns how to behave from watching your behavior and observing how you respond to them when they act out. If you don't tell them when they are behaving in an unacceptable manner, they will naturally believe that any behavior is acceptable.
I saved the best part of the story for last. While Kohlgate 2010 was occurring, another mom and her daughter (who I would guess was around 4) got in line behind Banshee and her caretakers. As the younger girl and her mother looked on, the cute as all get-out girl said to her mother, "Mommy, that girl is being naughty."
Mama Banshee turned to Mama Angel Child and shot daggers at her with her eyes, her look clearly saying, "Oh no she didn't! Discipline your brat, woman!" But Mama Angel Child simply looked down at her well-mannered daughter and said, "Yes honey, she is."
I could go on for another 10 paragraphs about the sad irony of the situation. But I'll instead say again - I will never allow my children to act like this in public. Bring on the karma.