Day Seven, the last day at Give Kids the World. But first…
Remember the parenting stuff we talked about on Day 1 & 2? I had an interesting thing happen yesterday. We stopped by a restaurant on the way to Darron and Tracy’s house. It was me, Michelle, Darron (our friend from Florida whose home we are staying in), and the kids. We sit down to eat and after a few minutes, Landis decides to act up. He wanted something and Mom told him no. When she got on to him he decided he was going break out into an “I’m not getting my way so I’m going to act like the world is coming to an end ” alternating pout and cry.
Mom and Dad don’t roll like that… you feel me?
He got one warning look from me and I could tell he was still drawing up battle plans so I took Landis by the hand and started to head for the men’s
Landis decided to alert the entire restaurant he was in trouble by howling even louder so I bent down right there in the aisle, put my hand over his mouth to muffle his loudspeaker and whispered in his ear to “s-t-o-p t-h-a-t c-r-y-i-n-g NOW” or else his next character "meet and greet" was going to be the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. I stood there for a couple seconds until he stopped the wailing (he could see the signs of the times and took heed) and then removed my hand from his mouth to continue to the bathroom.
After a couple of steps, I hear clearly from behind me “well that was ugly!”. I stopped and looked back to my left at this older couple sitting at a table. They were probably in their mid-seventies. I wasn’t sure who said it or even what they meant but when I made eye contact with the grandmotherly lady she said “that was a horrible ugly thing to do” out loud for everyone to hear.
At first, I thought she was talking about Landis’ fussing though it struck me as odd that she would describe it that way. I mean surely she wasn’t describing me disciplining him. Grandparents complain and lament about the permissiveness of parents today, so she must have been talking about Landis, right? Since she decided to make her announcement publicly and, being the reserved person that I am, I decided to respond publicly but with respect (I can’t disrespect the elderly, no matter how obnoxious the situation). Here was the conversation that both the restaurant staff and the other diners witnessed:
“Well that was a horrible ugly thing to do!” she said.
“Pardon me” I replied. “Are you speaking to me? What was horrible and ugly, Ma’am?”
“What you did to that child.”
“Ma’am, I’m not sure I understand. What do you mean ‘what I did to that child’? You mean getting on to him for fussing?”
She explained with quite the indignant tone and expression, “Putting your hand over that child’s mouth. What a horrible thing to do to a child.”
“Ma’am, what would YOU have me do? Would you rather I allow him to cry and fuss and disturb everyone else trying to eat their dinner? Would you like me to let him throw a fit and just ignore him like most parents do today?”
“Yes" she replied and by golly, she meant it.
“So you think that crying, fussing and throwing a fit is okay, but putting my hand over his mouth and telling him to stop is ‘horrible and ugly’?” I asked.
“Yes, that was a mean and awful thing to do.”
“Ma’am, I think the mean and awful thing is parents who let their kids behave like spoiled monsters and make everyone around them suffer while their child throws a temper tantrum. There is nothing horrible or ugly about putting my hand over his mouth and asking him to quiet down.” In my mind I also thought “you’ve GOT to be kidding me… now I can see why parenting skills have all but disappeared in the general population.”.
I was somewhat surprised that a seasoned citizen not only had this opinion but actually called me on the carpet in front of the entire restaurant. Her husband never said a word. I’ll let you figure out the probable dynamics of their relationship.
I took Landis to the bathroom but by then he had totally quieted down. He looked up and me said, “can you believe that woman Dad? Maybe you should put your hand over HER mouth”.
Okay, he didn’t say that, but it was funny wasn’t it? I warned Landis that he better behave and we walked out of the bathroom. The blue-haired woman was standing at the front door of the fine dining establishment (Steak and Shake), glaring at her husband who was still sitting at the table. She had a “would you get a move on or you’re next” look on her face.
As I walked by the old feller, I fought the raging temptation to offer him marriage sympathies but instead said, “Sir, normally you expect folks of your generation to applaud people who actually parent their children and don’t allow them to throw temper tantrums in public. I was shocked to be called ‘horrible and ugly’ for simply putting my hand over his mouth for a couple of seconds to get his attention.”
He gave me a sheepish look, kind of smiled and very softly said something about “it’s okay” or "I won't have to deal with her in heaven"... something like that. He seemed pretty frail, so I didn’t pursue the conversation. I patted him on the shoulder and wished him a great day. I looked back over at Broomhilda who was GLARING at me for talking to her husband (he obviously had not filled out the proper forms to get her permission to speak).
After we sat down, several smiles and nods came from other diners. The waitress came over and apologized, “I’m sorry about that. I can’t believe she did that. I hope it didn’t embarrass you…”
Hah! Little did she know I can’t wait for an opportunity to make a point to publicly about parenting. Have we really got to a point in this culture where putting your hand over a child’s mouth is considered “horrible and ugly” but letting them throw a tantrum, cry and ruin the atmosphere for everyone is perfectly acceptable?
Let me take the opportunity to sum up how we handle our small children when they decide to exercise their constitutional right to throw a fit in public.
First, because of consistent rules and discipline at home (you do have consistent rules and discipline in your home, right?), your kids should KNOW tantrums and pouting will not be allowed in public. They KNOW they might get one INSTANT split second to knock off the tantrum or pouting… if they are already being lead away from the table it’s too late, they missed their chance.
Second, if your child is screaming, fussing or otherwise emitting loud and bratty noises, try this revolutionary (but apparently abusive, horrible and ugly) technique: put your hand over their mouth for a few seconds. Why?
Uh… uh… uh… because it immediately shuts them up? Oh yeah, that’s it, I remember now. Of course you don’t want to cover their nose AND mouth
Putting your hand over their mouth does several things: 1) it quiets them; 2) allows you to speak* to them because they do NOT hear you** when they are throwing a fit, c) shows others*** that you are indeed attempting to parent your child and the tantrum is not acceptable, and X) sends an instant and unmistakable message to the child that YOU are in control, not them (O’ the humanity!!! Parents in charge? Won’t that hurt their all important self esteem?)
* Or, for advanced parents, it allows you to bend down and whisper in their ear that the useful portion of their life is about to end if they so much as blink sideways.
** it’s true, try it. Go to public place. Commence to throwing a rip roaring temper tantrum and see if you are listening to the other people who are calling the police.
***public embarrassment over bad behavior is a perfectly legitimate reason to discipline your kids. People have commented to many times to me "you shouldn't discipline your kids just because their whining or fussing makes you look bad". Really? Who said?
C’mon folks… when did we become such weenies? Do you really think putting your hand over their built-in bullhorn is going to hurt their precious all important self esteem? Somebody call the W-A-A-A-A-A-MBULANCE!!!!
Let me make sure I understand this correctly: allowing your kids to be spoiled, throw fits, scream, fuss, whine and generally make YOUR life (and everyone in the vicinity) miserable in public is loving, patient parenting… while actually doing something about it is abusive and will quench their little narcissistic spirits (I haven’t even mentioned the word ‘spanking’ yet… I don’t want to send people into a frenzy).
Our parenting opinion: your children should know - ESPECIALLY WHEN OUT IN PUBLIC - there will be less than zero tolerance for whining, tantrums and being disagreeable. Little Selfish Suzy, Gimmee Jimmy and Tantrum Tony are not going to hold you prisoner and ruin visits to the park, dinner out or family events. You need to employ instant response. If you count to three, or give 27 chances, kids will milk every ounce of any neutral zone you will give. Yes, we occasionally “give a second chance” but it’s not routine, and the kids don’t EXPECT it.
Is your kid screaming and throwing a fit? Put your hand over their mouth so that you can speak to them. If you aren’t brave enough for that, take them outside or to a bathroom. If you can’t muster the backbone to respect yourself, at least respect the other patrons. DON’T IGNORE YOUR MISBEHAVING CHILD IN PUBLIC AND EXPECT THAT EVERYONE SHOULD DO THE SAME. That is the most asinine, ineffective and rude parenting technique that has ever been summoned from the pits of toddler hell.
You are in control of your kids. YOU. You are in charge. You have the power, both physically and emotionally. They should have no doubt of that. This nonsense that using your age, size and physical strength is “teaching your children to dominate those who are smaller” is a bunch of horse puckey. To quote my grandad, that kind of thinking "makes my butt wanna suck a lemon." I don't know that means, but I'm guessing it's bad.
Your children should have no doubt that you have power over them, and that you are ready and willing to exercise it any time its needed.
Oh, that’s horrible and ugly!
More Day Seven Pics – Last Day at Give Kids The World
Abby wanted to see Dora so bad, and she finally
showed up on the last day at GKTW.
Delighted Abby and Cool Spidey... smooth.
Recovered from his early morning fear of
giant rodents and dinosaurs, Landis lounges with Abby
on the big stuffed bear.
Queen Abby.... Make A Wish Princess.
Er... King Landis... King of... something.
I don't know. You figure it out.
This is the roof of the castle. Look closely....
each star represents a child that has stayed at GKTW.
Abby put her star in the wish trunk...
... and the star fairy takes it away and finds a place
for it on the ceiling.
SpideyLandis plays in front of the magic
pillow machine that spits out bubbles.
Abby checks out her pillow from
the magic pillow machine.
Sami, Landis and a big ol' stuffed bear.
Abby and Sami are in the castle forrest.
The gators at Gatorland. It was amazing to see
them. The photos don't really show how big they were.
Not just gators at Gatorland...
Not just animals either...
Landis LOVED the goats. He feed them
and got licked and nibbled more than once.
Normally, Abby cannot be around farm animals
much less touch them, But we let her anyway because
she said "I WISH to feed a goat..." Then we WISHED
to wash her hands about two minutes later.
This fellow was my own personal buddy.
I think he saw a family resemblance in me...
look at him... looks like he found is long lost
twin brother doesn't it?
Abby saves Sami from a sure and gruesome
death in the jaws of the great beast.
Landis REALLY wanted to do this pic,
can't you tell?
Sami and Abby hit the pool at Darron's first thing,
despite the cool weather around 75.
Abby is fascinated by the dolphin statues.
After a long day, Landis finally crashes.
Okay blog buddies... it's picture caption time. Take a good look
at Landis' expression, then figure out what Abby is thinking.
Enter a caption below using the MckLinky Picture Caption Tool.
The winner gets a FREE copy of my next book:
"The Mind of Brent: Enter at Your Own Risk".
(Hey, have you used the Picture Caption tool yet?
Give it a try on your own blog.)