This is my son riding his bike. I took this the other day when he was doing his PE time after we finished homeschooling. Please note his helmet and his lack of knee, shin, elbow, and chin guards. Please also note his commercially licensed Transformers bike that was purchased at a major retailer like Wal*Mart. It's full of plastic, metal, rubber (possibly lead), and it was more than likely produced in China. He's also wearing a Star Wars shirt from Target. It's not organic and probably not fairly traded. Right before this was taken he ate a cream cheese (store brand) and jelly (homemade, from a friend, not organic) roll-up on an Ortega tortilla (from the store, not whole-wheat), some Pringles (yay, dehydrated potatoes!), and some fruit (not organic- I'm cheap) with a Minute Maid juice box. He was a happy camper.
I can hear the groans now- plastic! high fructose corn syrup! big corporations! gluten! lead! China! HE'S NOT WRAPPED IN BUBBLE WRAP AND MIGHT BECOME MARRED! But did you miss the last part? That he's a happy kid?
Ladies and gentlemen, we are raising a generation of weenies. And it's all because we're afraid.
We are so worried about what's lurking around the corner or in the shadows that we are forgetting to let our kids be, well, kids. We judge people who aren't doing the right thing (aka: the thing we're doing) and we worry about who's judging us in return. We're also so afraid of who's watching that we're forgetting to be parents. We quit caring about HOW we parent and if it's working and started worrying about how the Jonses percieve it.
Recently, a blogger (whom I'm NOT going to link to because he doesn't deserve any more traffic and I think the guy is a farce, but that is neither here nor there) wrote a post on how he witnessed a guy yelling at his kid in Costco. He wrote how the dad was giving the kid The Look (the same look you probably got as a kid) and how he was telling him to be quiet. He also wrote that the kid asked for ice cream and "The father glared him down, and through clenched teeth, growled at the boy to "leave him alone and be quiet"." He said that the father "broke" the boy. Um, no, dude. The guy may have been pissed, but you don't know what little Billy had done in the 7-10 hours prior to you witnessing a 5 minute exchange between father and son. And all was probably fine by the time they got home.
Have YOU seriously never been at the end of your rope with a kid?
I have- usually multiple times per week and, occasionally, per day. I've growled words at my kid, denied him ice cream, and promised him that I was going to find the nearest Gypsy caravan on the way home to sell him to. I have dragged my kid out of Target, abandoning a buggy and a shopping trip, and forcibly strapped him in his seat, and dragged his snarky little butt home. And I probably growled at him when I did it because I needed that stuff and I hate having to go back when I was *just* there. I've dragged my son out of his friends' birthday parties. I've dragged him somewhere to apologize to someone. I've taken him to the bathroom in restaurants. I've even *gasp* made him sit on the stairs and write an apology note to another adult for his behavior. And none of it broke him.
I parent my kid. I'm not afraid of other people witnessing, I'm not afraid of being embarrassed, I love the hell out of that kid and just because I lose my temper does not make me a worse parent than you. I'm not here to be his best friend, his therapist, or his playmate. I'm here to be his mom, his parent, his matriarch. I'm not afraid of raising a "broken" child because I don't second-guess what I'm doing. I know my kid and I know he's a a smart-ass with a hard ass (just like his daddy). I'm afraid of raising a little jackass.
I have a bright, spirited child and I know this (this is the same child who screamed at me last week that I should have left him in Japan with his real mother). I try to give him the freedom he needs and craves while keeping him reigned in, and it's a hard balance. Have I done the wrong thing sometimes? Probably. Will I probably still make mistakes until the day I die? Definitely. My son still tells me I'm the best mommy ever and that he loves me the most. And that is when I know I'm doing it right.
Now, I'm not saying that there aren't kids in this world that can be reasoned with while using a soft tone and mood lighting. If you have one of those, bully for you, but to insinuate that someone is a crap parent because you witnessed them at a bad moment in the middle of a store is a bit presumptuous, isn't it? So climb off your high horse (it must be awfully hard to breath up there with that lack of oxygen anyway), take your finger off the speed-dial for CPS, and worry about yourself and your kid.
Note: If you see a kid being beaten in Costco, by all means call CPS. But for God's sake, witnessing a parent having a bad day is no reason to stretch already stretched-thin social workers even further. Just be grateful you're not the one having the bad day.