I took my kids back to that dreaded place today. I shudder to even write it…the Mall. Last time we were there, I made the grave mistake of thinking my two-year-old and four-year-old were capable of sharing a sweet treat from Jamba Juice, after playing in the germ-infested play area. What’s a little sugar to top off the mall experience, right?
Having thought I had done my due diligence up until this point of teaching my little ones how to act in public, I was quickly reminded that this education was nowhere near its end. My two-year-old’s screams pierced the ears of each meandering Saturday morning shopper. Heads turned and eyebrows raised as my redheaded toddler ferociously fought in protest when I gently reminded him that it was his sister’s turn to take a swig.
Somewhere in the recesses of my frazzled mind, mixed between the thoughts of potentially annoyed shoppers, the sweat making my shirt sticky, the baby’s hungry cries, and now shock and frustration towards my son, I heard this quote… “Don’t be embarrassed when your kids misbehave, be embarrassed if you don’t do anything about it.”
Considering my already overwhelmed state of mind, the first part of the quote is all I could handle at that point. Besides, reasoning with a sugar-loaded, emotional toddler in the middle of the mall would be as effective as expecting an engaging conversation from a wall.
As crazed as I was feeling, that did take quite a bit of pressure off. I sighed. My kids are going to misbehave. I started to feel the tension draining. My kids are going to throw fits, lose control of their emotions, and yes, embarrass me from time to time. This. Is. Normal. This can be expected.
When we all got buckled in the car and calmed down, my mind went back to that quote and to thoughts of training and educating… Right now, whether I think I’m qualified or not, I am a teacher and those three squirmy, emotionally-charged, and sometimes irrational kiddos in the backseat, are my students.
(Just the thought of it makes me raise my eyebrows in the rearview mirror, and make that wide-eyed, sideways-mouth face that says, “Yikes! What was God thinking?!”)
I’ve had no training on what to do when a two-year old throws a tantrum in public or a course on how to handle a messy parenting situation while judgmental eyes are watching pit stains developing on my nice shirt…It’s official: I have no idea what I’m doing.
I prayed for wisdom and then did my best to teach my little guy about how to handle this type of disappointment. Was it right? Did I succeed? I don’t know exactly, but I addressed it. I did my best to teach him. And that’s my job, right? To teach and train, sometimes repeatedly, until they learn.
Are we cured of all future public tantrums? I’m not going to count on it. You can’t teach the multiplication table in an afternoon and expect the students to grasp it fully without further instruction and practice. Hence, the reason that I took a deep breath when I walked through those double doors today, and the warm smells from the food-court hit my face…
Today was a success. We got our fill of public germs from the oversized walrus, and random shaped tunnels. Then I stopped by the counter lined with slushy jugs of fruity goodness and ordered an all-fruit, peach smoothie. Then with sheepish, wide eyes I asked the worker… “Could I get one smoothie in TWO cups?” 🙂
How do you handle these sometimes awkward and very public parenting moments?
Or am I the only one who has these? 😉