I’m kind of a discipline nut. That could easily be misunderstood. I’m not saying that my kids are perfect, but after years of teaching, I actually view discipline as a puzzle. I’m always trying to figure out how I can get my child to act the way I would like. I’ve learned a ton, but still have far to go. One thing I do know for certain and that is: discipline can be tough on mom/dad/teacher too. Enforcing a decision once you’ve made it can make you wish you’d never taken a stand. Really.
I recently had the pleasure of getting to put my handy-dandy discipline knowledge to use, and it was pretty much the suckiest thing I’ve done in ages.
For starters, I was taking all three of my children to the pediatrician’s office. This is pretty much a disaster in the making. Just to get all three into the building I have to strap August to my body and put Louie and Charlie in the jogging stroller. This bad from the start because for some reason, Charlie is frightened of the jogging stroller and I have to basically hold him down to get him strapped in. Once in, he’s still not thrilled.
Once we get into the office–which, holy moly, why do they ALWAYS need to see my insurance cards? It’s not like they get confiscated if we stop paying our premiums. I have a kid strapped to my chest, does it look like it will be easy to fish that thing out of my purse?–I try to get us situated, which mean swapping August for Charlie, so August is in the stroller and Charlie is sitting in a chair.
This particular visit, Charlie would not sit back in his chair. Never mind his deathly fear of the jogging stroller, the office chair was apparently totally safe. So, about five minutes into our wait, one baby starts crying. As I’m digging for the bottle, Charlie leans so far forward in his chair that he falls out. I catch him before he hits the ground, but then he starts crying. Then, the other baby starts crying because everyone else is crying. I had reached the trifecta of tears and screaming.
I also felt like crying, so at that point I decided we were never going to make it to the magical moment where they call us back to sit in a tiny room, so I loaded up my crew and headed out. The twins were in the stroller and I was carrying the still-hysterical Charlie. Let me just say that motherhood has never looked so glamorous.
By the time we exit the building, I’m getting pretty upset. I mean, I had told Charlie to be careful and his general lack of listening had led to his fall, which was not at all painful because I actually caught him before he hit the ground. But still, he was screaming bloody murder in my ear as I started to haul his tiny butt across the parking lot.
That’s when it hit me that this was one of those teaching moments you hear so much about.
So I put Charlie down in the grass and told him I wouldn’t carrying him another inch until he stopped screaming.
He kept screaming.
People walked by and and looked at us out of the corner of their eyes.
He kept screaming, but I stuck to my guns. I was a little concerned someone was going to call the cops on me, but I pressed on knowing that if I folded at this point, I’d be folding forever.
After one of the longest 15 minute stretches of my life, the screaming stopped. I picked him and brought him to the car. He made a few squeaks as we walked, but I told him he was going right back down if he started screaming again.
That night I told my husband about the visit. About the warnings, the fall, and how embarrassed I was as Charlie made a scene in front of the medical building.
“Good for you,” he said. And you know? I think I did the right thing. Pretty terrible to endure, but in the end, I still think it was right.
Hopefully Charlie will learn this particular lesson (not screaming in mommy’s ear) pretty quick–if not, I’m pretty sure I’m headed for an early grave. Also, a trip to the hair dresser to cover all this gray.