I was reading an article on MSN today about brats in public, and it allowed viewers to respond. Here was mine.
I was actually one of those 'good' kids in restaurants. But being good was easy. Was I always so good? Hardly! The first time I acted up, my father asked me in a very stern (but not loud) voice if I wanted to go out to the car. As a defiant little girl who thought she was a big girl, I proudly challenged him by saying (in a very snotty kid voice) "YES". Of course, the trip to the car wasn't what I thought it would be. I thought I'd just be out of that restaurant. Little did I know there would be a sore behind and some tears involved.
Sure, sitting was difficult, but it didn't last all that long, and I never considered my father a violent or abusive man. It was discipline, and it was received as such. I knew I messed up, and as much as I didn't like it, I deserved it.
That happened only twice. Once to learn, the second time to remind. After that, if I ever started acting up, my father would ask sternly if I wanted to go out to the car. It was like magic words. I would be quiet instantly, shake my head, and everything was well with the world. I was happy I didn't actually get in trouble, and everyone else was happy.
It wasn't long before I didn't need to be asked for a trip to the car anymore. Sure, every now and again, I'd forget, as kids do... but a gentle reminder that the option was still there would have me back on track. I made a conscious choice to behave in public for so long, it became unconscious.
When I was about 5, we were in a Chinese restaurant, and an elderly couple approached my parents as they were leaving. They complimented my parents on what a "nice and well-behaved daughter" they had, and that the couple sitting at our table before us, had a little boy who was climbing all over the seats, screaming at his parents, throwing food and tableware, and all sorts of similar temper tantrums.
That day was probably one of my parents' favorite shining moments, and they treasure that memory. So, I try to return the favor and compliment parents who seem to be doing things right. It's easy to scorn bad parenting (which is too common for me to think is mere chance), but it also encourages better parental behavior when the good they do is recognized by others.
I hope every day, that my child will grow up much like I did - happy and well-adjusted to most every social situation... or if it will be like so many other kids who have never had any discipline (for the parent's fear of 'beating' their child), and hence run around like Tazmanian Devils, only to be put on Ritalin and diagnosed with ADD.
My biggest peave, is the parent that threatens their child with no follow-through. "Johnny, if you don't sit down and be quiet, I'm going to spank you... 1... 2... 3... Johnny! Sit down now! I'm warning you Johnny. Johnny, I told you not to throw spoons. That's it, you're going to get a spanking.. 1...2... Johnny, come here!" We've all seen it. It's annoying to watch. You want to just walk over there, turn the kid over your own knee, paddle him, and then look at the parent and do the same to them.