I recently wrote about my frustration with the old sentiment that children should be seen and not heard. I told you that I would continue to hold my head high and bring my children out and about in public. I told parents to stand proud in the face of haters, after all we parents are consumers, and tax payers, and citizens just like everyone else out and about doing what they need, and want, to do. I told parents not to worry what others think about them as they drag their children, by one arm and one leg, through a travel plaza, dirty state park rest room, airport, public library, or mall. Yeah, ok, scratch that.
Listen, it's not that I don't think you should shake your parental tail feather and be confident that you are a good momma or papa, despite the fact that your kid is turning bright red holding her breath while stamping her hands and feet on the ground in the post office line. You hear me?! Who gives a flying sippy cup what the haters around you think, I care about you and your sanity. I care about me and my sanity. I'm one public outing turned bad away from a week in the looney bin. I might actually be looking forward to the time away.
I've become used to the awkward feelings that come with taking kids out in public: the fight or flight, hair-raising fear when they sprint (how does a kid with 12 inch long legs sprint so damn fast?) across a parking lot; the stick your head in the sand embarrassment when you are standing in line at the grocery store and you hear the guy behind you snicker and you turn to see that your kid is practicing her forward roll in a dress- her panties at her ankles; the sheer horror you experience when they tell a dear loved one that she is fat like the nearby seagull trying to eat your beach treat ("but you have boobies!"); the I'd rather be invisible feeling when they tell your boss that you just farted in the car before coming into your office...and, on and on.
I don't think that all children should be seen and not heard. I just wish sometimes my kids could. It's really, really hard for me not to take the kids out of the home because Andy works many more hours than me or chooses to have "a lot of really important stuff to do" instead of hanging out with me and the kids. While sitting in the house all day, alone, just me and two kids, and four cats and a dog, sounds totally relaxing and stimulating, I still have tasks to accomplish in public. Because I've had no choice but to drag the kiddos along with me, I've been in denial for a long time but I'd now like to share a list of activities that you should not do with your kids, mostly based on personal experience. I'm going to let you guess which are mine and which are observations or assumptions. Here goes. Don't do this with your kids:
Have dental work done.
Go the gynecologist.
Talk to your therapist.
Go to a beer festival. (Disclosure:I have not, not, not done this but I've seen it before. Nothing kid friendly happens at a beer festival. Trust me.)
Go to the opera or a classical music performance where they suggest you open your mints before the performance starts so the rustling of the paper doesn't interrupt, and that you do your very, very best not to breathe for the entire performance.
Go bra shopping.
Have a mammogram.
Have a massage.
Attend a job interview.
Go to a horror movie.
Present at a workshop.
Have a manicure, pedicure, hair cut, or uh, anything that is meant to relax you.
Bring your kid to work day, aka your kid is sick and you have that super important meeting that you'll get fired for if you don't attend until you realize you'll now be fired for attending it with your puking kid.
Attend a wake.
Weed wack. Mow the lawn.
Walk your very large, very energetic, new dog that's never been on a leash before.
Attend a poetry reading.
Attend a meditation retreat.
Work out with your personal trainer.
Have lasik eye surgery.
Have any kind of surgery.
Yeah, so this list could go on for an eternity. If you end up in any of these situations with your kids, I do encourage you not to cry, at least until you get home. And then never, ever do it again.You may be asked never to come back.
Doing this stuff with any kid is really hard. Doing it with a child who has emotional regulation issues is just crazy. I've been working on techniques to shorten, soften, avoid, and altogether eliminate temper tantrums. Just thinking about them throws me into my own internal temper tantrum. A sage professional, whom I greatly trust and appreciate, suggested that I avoid situations that may provoke temper tantrums. Ok, at first I thought I liked this better than trying to reprimand, or tame, the wild beast-child, until I realized what this advice really means. Avoiding situations that may provoke a tantrum may include:
Going to a store.
Going to the doctor.
Having a babysitter.
Taking her to work.
Missing nap time.
Being in a car.
Going to the post office.
Talking to an adult.
Talking to another child or holding another child.
Giving her a glass of milk, that she requested 13 seconds ago, which apparently took too long, in a blue cup instead of a pink cup.
Looking at her.
Throwing her a birthday party.Taking her to a birthday party.
Telling her no.
Asking her not to punch her sister in the gut.
Waking her up.
Telling her it's time to go to bed.
Having too much fun.
Not having enough fun.
Asking her to build something.
Her sister knocking it down right after it was built.
Taking her for professional photographs.
Asking her to pee in a potty and not in her pants.
Washing her face.
I still don't agree that children should be seen and not heard. I think that I should not be seen or heard, particularly when I am with my kids. I'm going to go hide. I'm going to look for an invisibility cloak so that when I do have to go into public, and my kids are acting like giant jerks, I can throw the cloak over me and nobody will know who these kids are attached to, and I'll still be able to grab them by one arm, or one leg, and race back to car. I can try to phrase it so many ways. It can't have been said better than Erma Bombeck, "“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished, I climb out.”