How do you feel about strangers disciplining your children? My two year old, Claire, and I had such an incident recently. It started innocently enough...
We stepped onto an elevator behind another man. The three of us took our places and waited for the doors to close. In the beat before we were moving, Claire reached up to push a button.
The man yelled, “Don’t push that!”
The volume of his voice filled the small space of the elevator car with import. Stunned, Claire pulled her index finger out of the air and hid it in the palm of her other hand. She turned around and looked at him, her brow knitted in confusion.
I took a deep breath and said to my daughter, “It’s ok, Claire. Go ahead and push it.” She did. I turned to him and said, “She likes to push the buttons, so we’ve taught her how to press the 'close door' button.”
He responded, “Oh, I thought she was pushing a random floor.”
There you have it. We were on our way up. No apology from the man for yelling at my daughter. We rode the rest of the way in silence.
I was thinking about how much I wanted to tell the man that he had crossed a line.
I was thinking of saying that, unless my daughter is about to set herself or someone else on fire or something of that ilk, discipline is my domain and privilege as her mother.
I was thinking, “Dude, I get the terrible repercussions of accidentally having to stop at another floor on an elevator (dripping sarcasm here), but keep your big, fat trap shut. Try picking on someone your own size, you selfish bully!”
Instead of saying these things, I’m writing them here. Perhaps, I didn't say anything in the moment because Claire was with me. Or because I was trying to take the high ground. Or because I'm a wimp. Perhaps, I was worried that if I got started, I wouldn't be able to stop. Perhaps, this blog is my place to vent; where I go to find support from like-minded moms or to see if others have a different perspective to offer.
It’s not Claire and my first encounter on the elevator either. About a year ago, I wrote a post about a stranger who ignored Claire's hello on the elevator, and how angry and sad the interaction made me. I didn't say anything to that man either. That post brought out particularly impassioned opinions from readers. People on one side believed that the man was small and pathetic, and that ignoring the friendly gesture of a child is the lowest of low. People on the other side believed that I shouldn't have been angry at all, who told me that I should have given the man the benefit of the doubt or considered that he might have been having a bad day or, worse, a bad life.
So folks, what do you think? Have you ever had an adult behave in a way towards your children that rubbed you the wrong way? How do you feel when strangers step in to tell your child what to do? How do you think I handled this man? Should I have flat out told the man not to discipline my children or that his tone was aggressive? Or should I have let it go? Should I have given him the benefit of the doubt and gone on with my day? Now that the incident is over and I have time to reflect, I find myself filled with questions…
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Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)