Don’t get me wrong; I love being with my kids and I’m not trying to pawn them off. It’s just HARD. It’s hard to keep them entertained, occupied, calm, engaged and behaved in a public setting. Not because they’re bad or unruly kids, but because everyone else thinks they are. Correction: I think everyone else thinks they are. Therein lies the problem, you see. It’s not my kids; it’s my own parenting insecurity.
Over the weekend, I brought my four year old to the store with me. Admittedly, it was just before lunch and nap, she just sat through church relatively quietly, and she was not excited about waiting in line with me. So, I let her be-bop around the displays near the line while keeping her within my reach. She would pick something up and put it back nicely. She would tell me to look at the pretty thing she found. She was behaving. But then she started to drift further away.I called to her to stay close and she gave me that look. You know, the “I’m going to test my limits” look. I stepped closer to her, keeping one toe in line, but couldn’t reach her. I turned to the woman behind me with a smile and asked if I could jump back in line after retrieving my wandering toddler. She rolled her eyes and said, “I suppose!” as she waved me off. I could feel my face turn red as I gasped at her reply so I quickly picked up the testing toddler and continued to hold her while waiting. This, of course, only made matters worse.
In an instant, I stripped my child of her newfound independence. Not because she was misbehaving, but because a stranger made me feel like she was a bother. She started pushing herself away from me, climbing out of my arms like a scared puppy, her whines became louder and she ultimately started to cry. Full blown tantrum mode ensued. Simply because I was concerned with other people’s perception of her behavior.
On our way out, a cashier said to me loudly, “Hey, Mom! That looks like ADHD to me. My kid is 14 so I know it when I see it. You oughta’ get that kid checked out!” I pretended to half listen to her but chose not to engage the label maker she was trying to be. I needed to get my daughter to a quiet place.We both left the store frazzled for different reasons; but upset just the same. Neither of us spoke during the drive because I was embarrassed and she was angry. When we arrived at our house, I turned to the backseat to see a frowning kid with her arms crossed staring pensively out the window. I told her we should talk about what happened and she erupted into tears saying, “Mommy! I wasn’t even naughty! I could see you! I wasn’t even touching the breaky things! Why did you have to hold me like a baby?! I’M FOUR NOW!”
Once I picked my heart up off the floor, I did my best to explain to her that she wandered too far away and I had to leave the line to pull her closer so she was safe. What I didn’t tell her was the truth: I was embarrassed by the judging eye roll of the woman behind us. But I shouldn't have been.
At that moment, I made a mental promise to myself (and to my kids) to allow them to just be kids in public. I need to allow them a little bit of freedom, within reason, in public so they learn what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. The only problem I had with this promise was I didn’t know how to make it happen. They couldn’t experience the freedom properly if I wasn’t teaching it properly.Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to discover MomAssembly recently. Co-founded by Jill Spivack and Jen Waldburger, this site has been my go to place for the tough parenting situations that nobody warned me about. With nearly 50 courses available and more being added weekly, they cover topics ranging from birth to five years, all taught by hand selected parenting experts. And for those on the go, MomAssembly is available to view from your tablet or mobile device as well, picking right up where you left off when you change devices.
After my experience at the store, I scoured the site for answers and found a course called “Raising ChildrenThat Other People Like To Be Around” taught by author and blogger Richard Greenberg. He has raised four children with his wife and recently wrote a book by the same name. His parenting theory is to be S.M.A.R.T. in raising your children. Sure, it’s not foolproof, but his theory is relatively simple to follow:
You can check out a clip of this lesson below:
If you’d like to see more of Richard’s lessons and others offered on the site, MomAssembly subscriptions are available monthly for $7.99 or you can pay annually for $3.99/month. Either way, you get unlimited access to the entire library of expert video classes.
And because I love my subscription SO much, I've partnered with MomAssembly to give TEN of my readers their first month FREE! There is no drawing or raffle for this – just be one of the first ten to sign up for your subscription HERE to receive your free month!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some toddler taming to do!