Arghhh! Kids in public… Amiright? I’m not talking about your kids. I can’t really tell when other people’s kids are misbehaving. I’m usually zeroed in with laser accuracy on my two.
One of my children was born with the “don’t so much as have a dirty diaper in public” gene, and one… well, she didn’t swim in the side of the gene pool that contained it. I can’t say whether it was the shallow end or the deep end that contained it because the fact is, I wasn’t there and don’t know.
This child that missed the “behave in front of people” gene really threw me for a loop one year at the Christmas concert that was put on by her daycare. That particular daughter turned two the year of “the concert.” “The concert” was a wake up call for us.
That year, there were 20 adoring parents at daycare watching 10 kids performing Christmas songs. Some parents were videotaping the concert to remember forever the sweetness and hard work that was put in. There were props involved and so much love and attention put in by their daycare lady, it wasn’t even funny, meaning these weren’t Carrot Top-like props, people. They were legit, beautifully crafted by children, and had glitter with pipe cleaners. These props literally and metaphorically were a twinkle in both the children’s and the parents’ eyes.
The concert started beautifully. The children sang out of tune at the top of their lungs, and they nailed the hand actions. We, the parents, heard this in the perfect pitch and were pretty sure even the original “Grease” cast doing the hand jive would pale in comparison to the talent before us. We were getting towards the end of the concert, and I guess my youngest daughter had reached her limit. She has a somewhat hard-hitting nature (or as I call it occasionally, her “Holy &@#*, what just happened?” side).
From what I can determine, her “doneness” with the concert lead to some confusion over whether this singing program was, in fact, supposed to be a singing program or a presentation of her MMA fighting skills. Her mama having raised no fool, my daughter decided to do both? I guess. In the industry, that is called “hedging your bets,” but in the world of daycare Christmas concerts, it’s called “making your parents look like real jerks who can’t manage you.” She turned to the little girl next to her mid-song and started slapping her.
Here is where some realizations came in for my husband and me. Realizations like, Maybe we need to take some blame for this behavior. Maybe we should not have taken her to “the octagon” to train. Maybe we should have stopped having her break though bricks with her head sooner. Maybe we should have stopped feeding her raw meat. Maybe with these changes we could have avoided the confusion leading up to the slap. No one can say for sure, and you know what!? We love our babies. Also, we encourage our babies, dangit.
Our kid did hug the little girl afterward. Sure, we all held our breath while she hugged, waiting to see if it was a submission hold or a takedown move. The hug turned out to be legitimate. No referee was required to remove our child from the situation. That felt like a win by that point in the concert.
These public displays of unruliness are what really drive me batty as a mother. I feel like it’s a chaos level above what I ever see at home. I can control things at my home in a way I can’t in public. I can let my kids cry things out and shut the door. I can punish them without worrying if it’s what the mother next to me would choose to do — the mother next to me who always looks like she has things together.
The only way I have found to deal with this is to laugh at it. This is just one example of how I do it, and I hope it encourages you to find the humor, too. It’s not always immediate, this reframing of things, but I get there. I get there, and I can’t wait for my girls to be old enough to laugh with me and to be inspired to do the same about their life challenges.