I remember being at my sister’s pool with my nephews (this was before my own kids), when one of them got out the pool, walked over to the grass outside the pool area, pulled their swimsuit down, and promptly peed on the grass. I tried not to react, but I couldn’t help it. My sister laughed, and simply told me it was easier than trying to have them “make it” to the bathroom. Especially if they were all wet and slippery from the pool water, she didn’t want to them to slip and fall on the hard tile. I thought nothing of it, but when it continued as they got older, I started to wonder: what is actually appropriate for parents to let their children do in public?
When I was little, I had to make sure that I listened to everything my mom asked me to do. Don’t touch anything that wasn’t mine, talk when spoken to, say please and thank you, stand up straight…the list goes on. Yes, it seemed like a lot at the time, but I feel more dignified for how my mom brought me up. I learned to entertain myself when at guests’ houses that I didn’t know anyone, and I ate what was on my plate regardless of how I felt about it. I don’t think that my parents went as far as the “children should be seen and not heard” thought process, but they definitely ran a tight enough ship for me to understand the difference between right and wrong.
A woman I know was walking out to her car from the store, in a rather large parking lot. Her daughter started to run from her. She caught her child by the arm, and began disciplining her on the spot, with several spanks on the tush. Some random bystander walked right up to the woman and began to shame her about her actions towards her child, saying how she shouldn’t do hit her in public. The woman turned to her, held out her daughter’s arm and said, “You want to take her?” The bystander, shocked at the response, backed away to her car without another word.
Do we discipline in front of others? Do we let our kids pee in public? In an earlier post, I talked about where to draw the line with how much we will do for our kids. Where do we draw the line with a public show of anything?? Right from the start, my husband and I try to tell our kids what they need to do when “out”. Hold hands, talk quietly (no yelling), listen to mommy and daddy, watch where you are walking. Since they are still young, I am sure we still have a lot of work to do. But how many rules are too many in front of others? When do we let things go?
I’m trying to set good examples for my children. I guess I shouldn’t encourage them when they pretend a soup can is a beer or go around saying mommy’s age. My jury is still out too about our pool that came with our new house; do I let my kids pee by the side of it or do I hope they’ll make it inside on the skid-free carpet to the potty? One thing I know for sure: everyone’s views of what’s appropriate in public are different, and we’ll never completely agree. So when my eldest talks about how mommy loves her wine to strangers, I suppose I can simply smile and embrace it. I mean, it’s true, right?