I owe parents everywhere an apology. I can't tell you how many times a parent has asked me to tell their child not to watch too much TV or has told me that they pretend to call me on the phone to get their child to make good choices. I always scoffed- you can't discipline your own child? You need me to come in and do the dirty work for you? Even imaginary me works better than you?
I shook my head at these parents inability to control their children and felt smug that they needed to use me.
Until this morning, when I- just like many, many parents before me- used my daughter's teacher to get ready.
My 18 month old daughter has decided that clothes are just about the equivalent to having acid poured all over her body. (The only thing worse than clothes are footy pajamas- who knew footy pajamas were so offensive?) This morning she lay on the floor, screaming "NO, NO, NO, NO" as I held her clothes over her.
After offering her choices, ("Which shirt do you want to wear?", "Which leg do you want to put in first?") and dressing her favorite baby doll in the clothes I finally resorted to the ultimate, "Well, I'm sorry Little Lipstick, but Miss Aisha has a very strict No Naked Baby rule. I'd love to let you run naked all day, but Miss Aisha would never let you in the door. She only wants girls wearing clothes."
My daughter eyed me wearily, pausing in her screaming. She looked at me and then the offensive clothes, and then back at me. Looking me straight in the eyes she announced, "NO AYA-AYA! NO NO NO NO" and flopped back onto the floor to finish her tantrum.
I emailed Miss Aisha to tell her that 1) she now has a no-naked baby rule she didn't know about and 2) now Little L was mad at all 3 of us (Oh yes, daddy was in on this too).
The thing is- since becoming a parent I've actually read about this strategy in parenting books. It's a good one (when it works) because it allows you to stay calm and collected. It's not your rule you are trying to enforce. Your child isn't acting up as a personal affront to you. I mean, if you could you'd let them eat chocolate and drink juice all day, but Dr. White said to eat broccoli, and, well, Dr. White makes the rules.
Come to think of it I've used it in the classroom, just using the principal instead of the teacher/pediatrician. "Oh no! We can't get too loud! What if Mrs. So and So comes in- we'll be in so much trouble!"
So parents, I apologize for my judgements and smugness. You were creating a situation where you could stay calm and in control, sympathize with your child while still enforcing a very important rule.
I can guarantee that this will not be the last time I need to apologize for judging parents.