Don’t Discipline My Child!
Um, excuse me, please don’t step on my mommy toes! Thank you.
-Carrie Vining Spanier
Picture this: Jake, my little guy, was a tender 18 months and blissfully playing in the sandbox at our favorite neighborhood playground. I was sitting on the edge of the sandbox questioning my sanity (and the sanitary conditions — it was New York City, after all!), when all of a sudden another little boy poured a bucket of sand right on top of Jake’s little defenseless head. I leapt up and yelled, “Hey!” The momma tiger in me was ready to pounce. This child assaulted my baby! OK, it was sand, not acid, but still! Mommy rage took over. Suddenly, instead of reprimanding the offender, I stopped, dead in my tracks, and simply said loudly, “Whose child is this?” while pointing at him. I scooped Jake — and lord knows what else — up from the sandbox and left. As a former hothead, I really was perplexed by my lack of response. I mean, should I have said something to the kid, yelled at the parent? Or was it really not my place to do either?
Fast forward two years, and Jake, now 3-and-a-half, is a strong-minded boy. While at a friend’s house on Halloween, Jake was having a blast and burning off some serious sugar. I stepped out of the room for a moment, only to hear Jake scream “NOOOOOO!” I walked back in to find another mother (someone I have met only one other time) pulling Jake off of a toy — literally by his waist — because her daughter wanted to be on it! I was dumbfounded. I picked up Jake, who was squirming and crying (hey, it was a cool toy!), and left the room. That’s it. I said nothing.
The mommy rage didn’t hit me until later. And, boy, did it hit me. I was furious! I could not shake my outrage that someone else had actually stepped on my mommy-toes! And that biatch put her hands on my kid! In her place, if my son had wanted a toy another child was playing with, I would have taken Jake away from the toy and explained to him that the other kid doesn’t want to share right now. Done and done. I have enough going on without having to teach lessons to or discipline other people’s kids! Not my place.
And I sure as heck don’t want anyone else disciplining my child.
Amy*, a thirtysomething mother of one, says it infuriates her when one of her closest friends tells Amy’s daughter what to do. “My friend, who is not even a mother herself, drove me crazy the last time she came to stay with me. She kept making little remarks to my 6-year-old daughter, like ‘Finish your dinner,’ and ‘Wow, it’s messy in your room.’ I love my friend, but it’s affecting our friendship. She can play mommy when she has her own kid.”
Of course, no one thinks parents should let other kids hit or in any way attack their own children without stepping in. But, as Cara Spotto Endriss, 35, a mother of twin boys, says, “Stepping in to me means letting my kid or the other kid know that hitting is wrong, in a calm but serious voice. Simple as that.” No yelling and definitely no touching. My sweet-as-sugar pal Stacie Forman, 38, a mother of one, says, “It depends on the severity of the situation; anything done nicely, though, is acceptable.”
Bottom line: ya see my kid, ya see me? Then back off and let me do my job! After all, 40 weeks of pregnancy, 22 hours of labor, and 30 minutes of pushing till my eyeballs nearly popped out has, at the very least, earned me that right!
* Name has been changed.
Carrie Vining Spanier lives in New York, is a mother of two and has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.