Parenting is a difficult job. And anyone out there who is a parent will understand both the physical and mental energy that is required to raise a child. The level of responsibility involved is enormous. We are given these tiny little human beings to take care of, these little blank canvases who have yet to experience anything of the world around them and we are supposed to nurture and teach them how to live in that world being good and decent people.
Which is why as a parent, as is with any job, there will be aspects that you enjoy but there will equally be parts that you don’t. The hard slog, the arduous bits that as much as you want to avoid them, they simply have to be done. And one big part of that is having to teach your child discipline. The difference between right and wrong. Let’s be honest, does any parent really enjoy this part? I doubt it. I don’t particularly like doing it because I often feel like I am the baddie, the one who is always giving out, wagging her finger, warning that there will be no treats if you don’t eat all of your dinner etc. etc. etc.
But what am I supposed to do? When my 4 year old daughter is pushing her younger sister I have to call her up on it. I have to stop her and tell her it’s wrong to push. When my 2 year old is filling one of her toy cups with water from the sink and pouring it all over the floor I have to take the cup off her and explain to her that this is wrong. Sometimes I feel like I am constantly correcting them but as a Mum that’s my job. I wish it was all laughing and playing games on the floor but unfortunately there is the more serious side too which I (and their dad) have to deal with.
Which is why I really don’t need to feel bad about being the one who teaches my children the difference between right and wrong. And right now I am talking about those people who think it should always be fun and games when it comes to the kids. In my case it is often the two grannies who are constantly giving the disapproving looks. It’s subtle but it’s there. A slight shake of the head and a tightening of the lips because I have interrupted the fun to tell the two girls not to shout so loudly and to stop jumping on the couch. I often hear the words “Oh she is only having a bit of fun..” and “She didn’t mean it really, she’s a great little girl!”.
But it’s not just family members that are the culprits. It can often be strangers too. Once I was in a homeware store with my then 3 year old daughter, trying to pick out a photo-frame to give to my mum for Mother’s Day (the plan was to put a picture of her with the two ducklings into it). But my daughter Millie was being really giddy and kept trying to touch all of the frames on the shelf. I was so conscious that she might knock one and break it that I had to constantly lean down and tell her to stop. The whole thing was starting to get really stressful so I decided to abandon the operation. I was just getting ready to leave when I saw this woman, a complete stranger walking toward us.
She started smiling down at Millie and remarked to me about how they don’t stay young for long. “Oh they are so precious when they are this age aren’t they?”, as she beamed down at her. “Um, yes…” I said as Millie wriggled and I tried hard to keep hold of her hand. “And we’d never want to hurt them, would we?”, as she looked back up at me. I then realised that this woman was intervening because she thought I was over-doing it with the discipline. Maybe she thought I was going to smack her? I will never know because I took Millie by the hand and exited the shop very swiftly. But I walked home that day really, really upset. I was a whole mix of emotions. I felt shocked, frustrated and angry. I would never, ever hit my daughter but at the same time I have to show her that she can’t jump up and down in a shop and touch everything that she wants to.
You see this is the side of parenting that is difficult. Nobody wants to be the bad guy all the time. But as I say these little people are only learning how to behave and we have to be their guides. So to all the disapprovers out there, those with the judgemental eyes who don’t agree with our methods of parenting, please remember the next time to cut us some slack. We are only trying to do our best.