with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
I let Mean Lady out this week. We were at the park, enjoying an unusually balmy northeast November weekend afternoon. The park is a huge wooden castle-like structure that was built by the community several years ago, and it holds hundreds of kids. Maybe thousands. And they were all there that day. Thousands of them. Screaming. Running. Jumping. Pushing. Screaming. Mostly screaming. And Mean Lady just had to come out.
Mean Lady didn’t like it when she saw a girl of about 6 run right onto a bouncy bridge where there was a 2-year old playing, toddling back and forth on his wee wobbly legs. And stand right where he was. And then jump. Hard. 2-year old predictably fell down and cried. Little girl ran off, but not before the Mean Lady cornered her and said that Jumping Hard like that on a bouncy bridge where there is a kid smaller than you is Not Cool. Little girl’s eyes got big and round and she edged away from Mean Lady, keeping a close eye on her for the next hour.
Mean Lady came out again to another little girl (does she have something against girls? or are they just mean these days?) who thought she could weasel her way through a narrow passage past Mean Lady’s youngest spawn, knocking him to the side. Mean Lady told Weasel Girl to Wait Her Turn. Weasel Girl ignored her, but not before several Mean Lady Eye Darts were embedded in her brain.
Mean Lady also appeared on the airplane after listening to a high-pitched squeaky voice behind her sing “He’s got the whole world in his hands” four or five hundred times while the back of her seat was being kicked repeatedly for an hour. Mean Lady’s scary smiling face appeared over the top of the seat and informed squeaky two-year old (nicely, smiling) that there was a Real Live Person in the seat in front of her and that while the Real Live Person understood how difficult it was to be Two and to be on an airplane that had to make an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota and was therefore delayed for hours and hours, this Real Live Person would appreciate it very much if she could understand that every time she kicked the seat, R.L.P. could feel it, thank you.
I have always hated it when people spoke to my kids unkindly. It hasn’t happened often, but when it has it felt like a slight on my parenting abilities — the implication being that somehow I should be able to keep my children under control at all times. My bunch is pretty well-behaved, for the most part. And except for my youngest, who marches to his own Down syndrome beat, they are conscious of how they come across in public.
I am possibly the worst hypocrite in the universe, but I have come to the point where I no longer stay silent if other people’s kids are acting in ways that could hurt other people or are unsafe, or — in the case of the airplane — are just patently annoying. At the same time, I resent it when other people discipline my kids. That does make me hypocritical, doesn’t it? I mean, can I really have it both ways?
I figure it’s better to speak up. And I’d also prefer to be the person disciplining my kids if they need it, at least if I’m right there. I probably erred by not speaking directly to the squeaky seat-kicking two-year old’s mother (she made some oblique comments about me, saying to no one in particular that “some people should understand that two-year olds have been on an airplane all day,” but as I also had been on an airplane all that day myself and was feeling cranky, plus have have been on innumerable flights with my own kids and was successful in ensuring that they refrained from excessive seat-kicking, I ignored her), but I figured I’d treat the seat-kicker the way I would treat my own kids. Like a person who could be reasoned with.
So, what do you think? Do you discipline other people’s kids? In what kind of situations? And how do you feel when other people — strangers — butt in attempt to discipline yours?
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