So tonight, while standing in line at the grocery store, I observed an interaction between a young mom and her no more than two-year old son: She was holding him on her hip and he was clearly not a happy camper – fussing, with red eyes and a flushed face, he could have been not feeling good or simply missed his nap that day.
The mom kept snapping, “Stop it!” and shifting him in her arms. Apparently he was pinching her, and she objected. Which, you know, I get, two-year olds can have lobster-like little claws at the end of their arms.
What I didn’t understand however, was this mom’s response. After snapping “Stop it!” a few more times, she said, “quit pinching Mommy, it hurts!” And then proceeded to pinch his little chubby arm, presumably to show him how much it hurts.
Instead, the boy reacted exactly how any other little kid would upon being pinched. He threw his head back, wailed his distress and clung ever tighter to his parent. Who, of course, was even more irritated by his reaction.
Sigh. Look – I get that kids can be irritating. They’re irrational, impulsive, and oh-so-needy. Five minutes can’t go by without them needing something changed, wiped or retrieved. They don’t pick up on social clues, they don’t do the dishes after dinner and forget about stimulating, intellectual conversation. (Unless you enjoy debating the merits of living in Sponge Bob Square Pants pineapple under the sea) But the thing is, that’s normal. That’s why they’re called children. They’re not supposed to know how to do all that stuff. We’re supposed to teach them. And teaching a kid not to pinch by pinching him back does not any sense make! (Sorry, I’ve been watching too many Yoda clips)
I know there’s a big part of the population embraces the biblical adage of “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. And I can assure you that in my upbringing, the rod was not spared, and I was not spoiled (no matter what my brothers tell you – they’re just jealous that I got my own room all those years), and hey – I turned out okay! Well, mostly. I mean, the twitch is almost gone.. But I do question the logic behind corporal punishment. Especially in this kind of scenario. When your child is behaving in a way that you don’t like, how does responding in anger, either physically or verbally, teach him/her anything of value?
And I know that I’m the last person who should be criticizing any parent. After all, I don’t have any children of my own, and although I did work full-time as a Nanny for several years, it’s been a long time since I was subjected to the exhausting, daily demands of full-time childcare. Which doesn’t compare with full-time motherhood. I know this, I know. I have no ground to stand on here.
But I just can’t help but be upset when I see these kinds of things happening in public. Makes me want to take their kids away (don’t worry, not in that creepy baby-snatcher kind of way) and whack them upside the head with a bag of oranges.
The golden rule is not exclusive to the under-12 set, right? If you don’t want your kids to go around hitting people, don’t hit them. If you don’t want your kids to lash out when they’re upset, don’t lash out at them. Teach them self-control by exhibiting it yourself. Teach them tolerance by being tolerant of their terrible behavior. Is this an unreasonable expectation?
Tell me – what do you think?