Discipline. When I found out I was going to be a mom, I was sure that I would be a hard ass when it came to discipline. I remember watching stranger's hell-raising children in restaurants screaming, throwing food and running around the place like wild animals and I'd just wait for one of their parents to make eye contact with me so I could give them that look like "Please handle your rug rat before I do!". Not that I would ever have the courage to actually say anything more than "Hey kid, go be a brat around someone else", but the point is, I hated seeing uncontrollable children, and I still do. The only difference between then and now it that sometimes.....I have one of my own. UGH!!!
Don't get me wrong, she is not as bad as the picture I portrayed. In fact, because she is only 1 and super adorable, she can get away with a lot more than she should. The struggle is knowing where to draw the line. When she was a little baby I encountered my first experience with "new parent-discrimination". We were at one of those over-rated, overpriced, under-appetizing chain restaurants with my parents filling our gluttonous bellies with over sized portions of food when it all went down. It took all four of us; my mom, dad, fiance and I to keep the almost 5 month old entertained as we ate. Along came a senior couple in their late 60s-early 70s, who I am assuming never had kids of their own and also appeared to be less than happy with each other, or themselves for that matter. The hostess sat them next to us and as they settled into their table, they both gazed over at our chattering baby with a look of fury in their eyes, both sighing with a hint of irritants in their tone and the woman said to the man "Are you going to be OK sitting here?" he replied in the most annoyed way possible "I guess I'll be fine". We all looked at each other, trying to hold in the uncontrollable bursts of laughter that so badly wanted to bust out of each one of us and then went on with our meal. As we continued to eat, my very happy baby continued to hold what seemed to be a very interesting conversation with herself and not once did I try to quiet her down. In fact, the evil in me wanted her to cew and chatter at the top of her lungs just to spite Mr. & Mrs. Curmudgeon as they gawked over the senior menu. As we continued to eat and listen to Soli rant and rave about whatever it was she was telling us, the old couple continued to look over occasionally with one eyebrow lifted, I pretended as if I saw nothing and soon we packed up all of the ridiculous baby cargo that is necessary when packing a baby around town, and we were on our way.
On our way home, I was for some reason, I was a bit bothered by that couple. Most of me didn't care and knew that it was simply a case of two angry old people who thrived on anger, but a part of me knew that was just a taste of the judgement that will come from strangers who don't agree with our decision to have children or don't like how we raise them. So, I started wondering when is it going to happen again, what will I say or do and most importantly, what's going to happen if someone really pisses off my stubborn and quick tempered (yet lovable, teddy bear) fiance? Luckily, I have not encountered a similar situation since, but there have been some close calls. Funny enough, we were eating at the same establishment last night (its now very clear to me that I haven't been to a respectable, enjoyable fine restaurant since this kid has been born) sitting very close to where we were the last time, this time Soli is much older, louder and mobile. Needless, to say I was on edge, looking around the room waiting for someone to say something about our restless and antsy child. She was especially animated all day yesterday and all I was thinking was, "Why the hell did I think it would be a good idea to go out to dinner tonight?" especially since I am very well aware of the fact that she thinks its hilarious to grab a handful of food and say "Uh-oh" and THEN drop the food on the floor. So as I try to eat my food and monitor the amount of food that starts on her plate and ends up on the floor, I am reminded of the last time I ate there and I'm thinking "That was nothing compared to this!". We finish our meal and my fiance and parents decide they want dessert. Great, 30 more minutes of playing zoo keeper hoping that no one offers us a side of judgement to go with our Dessert Trio special! During dessert, the child chair-hopped from one lap to the other until she found her way between Grammie and Papa's booth seat, there she knocked on he window that divided us and the lovely family sitting behind my parents, then continued to make silly faces at them every time they turned around. Of course, we scolded her when she got loud and told her "No" more times than I can count, but keeping her quiet and mellow was simply impossible.
I know that all of this is normal for a healthy, happy 1 year old baby, but my expectations are pretty high when it comes to raising a well behaved child and there are times when I feel like maybe I am not doing enough. To be clear, my child is a complete handful. I envy the parents whose children didn't start walking or talking until 12 months or older or the parents who's children are mellow and shy because my kid is none of those, in fact she is the absolute opposite of mellow and if there were a word that would explain how shy she is NOT, I probably should have named her that! So with the piece of work we have on our hands, how do I make sure that I'm not one of those parents I hated in my pre-baby life? For now, I suppose the best answer is to stay consistent and deal with hearing my annoying self say "No" every 10 seconds. I refuse to be one of those people who live in sweat pants and never leave home because I am too afraid of how my child will act in public or too worried about what other people will think of my parenting skills. Besides, just because I decided to have a baby doesn't mean that my right to frequent overpriced, over rated, chain restaurants has been revoked. Let's be real, it would be much worse if I took my over energized child to a fine dining restaurant, which by the way, is where I prefer to frequent anyway, let the sacrifice be noted people!
So, until she has a better understanding of what discipline is and can acknowledge when she is being disciplined, I will continue to redirect her bad behavior and keep her busy and occupied with other things. Once too often I've been the fool who tried to discipline and in return recieves a big fat smile accompanied by a smooch and I wonder to myself, what was the point of getting frustrated with someone who has no idea that her silly little actions are "socially unacceptable". I'm learning that it is important to stay focused on age appropriate behavior guidance and not dwell on the little things that may draw attention to us in public. I'm very lucky, my biggest frustration with Soli is controlling her high strung energy. Tantrums, kicking, screaming, biting, hitting etc... have all been horror stories I have only read about or watched from afar in public. So as long as she is busy, walks away from something when she is told no and knows that she will have our love and attention all of the time, not just when she acts out I'm hoping that we will keep her behavior in line...for now, that is, I'm sure it will only get harder!