By Fredrica Syren
I always tell people that my family is both hippie and conservative at the same time — depending who we’re hanging out with. We have friends who love us but think our lifestyle is totally out there and see us as little “flower power” kind of people, and then we have the free spirited friends who also love us but view us as pretty conservative people. It’s fun to be in both worlds and I hope we bring the best from both. But there are times when the two worlds do not really work. Take, for example, my experience disciplining my daughter in front of another mom, when instantly I felt like a villain because of my tactics (which were, by the way, acts of desperation at that point). No, I did not disown my child or beat her, but I did use a threat that totally backfired on me.
I was picking up Bella from a play date she had been on for a couple of hours. I went to pick her up as soon as Noah woke from his nap and didn’t even feed him because it was getting late in the day. Once I got there, Bella did not want to come home, so I let her take her time and talked to the mom. After 30 minutes of trying to convince Bella that it was time to leave because it was getting late and I needed to get Noah home to eat, she still would not have any of it and refused to go. I joked and asked if she was going to stay there forever and whether I should give away her toys.
Now, the other mom likes to be calm with the children (I think it’s great) and let them do things in their own time. This is a little harder for me and maybe I’m just not a very patient person. Bella’s friend then came out, and said yes and that Bella did not care and she was not going home with me. I once again asked if she really wanted me to give away her toys, and her friend said yes because she had lots of toys Bella could have instead. So, no, she was not helping; meanwhile, I was getting tired of this game. So, calmly I told Bella she needed to come with me then or there would not be any more play dates. They both responded that they didn’t care. By that time I was really tired, so — with Noah in one arm — I simply took her by the hand and walked her to the car while she cried whole way.
Once in the car, we talked about how this was not good behavior, etc. The next thing I knew, I got an email from the mom, saying her daughter was upset because she believed Bella would not have any more play dates. Sigh! The mom asked me to give her some reassurance. On one hand I felt really bad that Bella’s friend was upset, but on the other hand I also didn’t want to tell them I was bluffing. I felt like a horrible mom and a villain who caused anxiety for someone else’s child. I hate feeling this bad, but then wonder if maybe it’s all in my head. I have since talked to the mom about how we can more efficiently draw future play dates to an end and support each other so both children feel, when it’s time to go home, that threats and crying are not necessary. Well, I guess we can always hope, huh?