Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Discipline and the lack thereof

I recently went to dinner with my parents and brother as well as some relatives on my mom's side who I either hadn't seen in over a decade or had never met at all. We met at a restaurant and unless your children could be understudies for the Von Trapp brood, restaurants tend to bring out the worst and loudest of the wee ones. My kids are no exception. Ben could hardly stay seated and preferred to hop from empty booth to empty booth. I suppose I should be glad he chose empty booths rather than occupied ones. Ethan, as usual, could only stand his high chair for so long before he decided that he needed to be in my lap instead. Toys were repeatedly dropped, bits of bread were thrown, tantrums were had, and the kids misbehaved as well. Honestly, it occurred to me when I was home and processing the evening that I was probably the bigger embarrassment through it all.

The thing about kids is that they are, you know, kids. It's a known fact that children can be loud and hard to contain. Anyone who has children knows and accepts this while those without children tend to look on with horror while silently promising themselves that their kids will be different. The fact remains that we were at a family restaurant with family surrounded by other families. It was a whole building full of people who "get it". So why was I such a mess? I spent more time bellowing at Benjamin to stay seated than I did amiably chatting with my relatives. I insisted on keeping Ethan contained and squalling rather than allowing him to move about for a bit and let him "get his wiggles out" as "Yo Gabba Gabba" would put it. By the end of the evening I was a jittery, stressed-out, harpy who was too consumed by the behavior of my children to realize that I was no picnic, either. I had been just as loud and just as an unruly only without the excuse of childhood to hide behind. I know better.

I'm not saying that I should have just allowed my children to run amok, but I need to calm down. These past few months since I've entered the world of stay-at-home parenthood, I've been repeating as much in my head. Flying into a fury over what is basically a normal part of childhood (and therefore parenthood) just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make the kids behave and it certainly doesn't do me the tiniest bit of good. Calm has been hard to come by, though. It's gotten better, but I'm still not where I'd like to be. In my mind, every other mom and/or dad is better qualified, more patient, more creative, and a far more effective disciplinarian. The itty bitty rational voice in my head tells me often that this is a heap of lies but the tremendous blob monster of inner shame and self-admonition has gotten its hands on a megaphone and just won't shut up. I have to get the blob monster under control, especially now that Ethan is exhibiting the truth to the phrase "terrible twos." If I don't, I'm afraid I'm going to end up in a padded cell somewhere while my kids terrorize the populace as adorable thieving arsonists.

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