Tuesday, April 20, 2010

McDonald's Mom.

This post is about being a "yes mom."
Others have written about this topic as well.
Anne has made this the year of "yes."
Love talks of being a "yes mom," in this post.

On Sunday we took the kids to the circus. It was an awesome time, although I think they are still just too little to sit for such a long time. Although the acts were entertaining, our redheads didn't seem all too thrilled. This was the same day that they sat so good for us during the entire church service. It was a long day with alot of sitting.

So after the circus we took them to a nearby McDonald's (gasp) to let them play. I know, I know I feed my kids junk. yadda yadda yadda.
Anyway, during our play time at McDonald's there was another mother there with her small boy. He was probably a little older than Braden, but not Nora's age. During the entire time they were there, all this mother did was lecture her little boy.
To the point that it exhausted me.

"Now you know we do not run like that, son."
"If you cannot properly go down the slide, we will leave immediately. Do you understand me?"
"etc. etc. etc."
And then the kicker.
Her little guy got hit by another little boy.
I sat in complete awe of what this mother was about to do. She got up and looked into the slide. She began saying in a rather aggressive tone, "I want to know who is hitting inside of this slide?" When the culprit came down, her little boy pointed to him and told her which one it was that had hit him. The mother then held out her upside down pointer finger and motioned for the boy to come to her.
At this point I turned to my husband in disbelief and said,
"Oh no. Surely she cannot punish someone else's child."
Apparently she can. And she did. And, in my opinion, it was inappropriate.

The boy that hit her son was much older. She asked him if he had hit the boy to which he replied that he had. She said "we do not hit or yell in the slide!" The child apologized to her. But that wasn't good enough. She said,
"can you apologize to him?" pointing towards her small child.
The boy did. Again.
And the mother walked away, red faced and frustrated.

Her little boy clung to her for the duration of his 'playtime.'
How enjoyable, I thought. He got a whole 2 seconds to walk around the play area without being lectured and then he felt as if he couldn't even play at all after the embarrassing ordeal that just took place.

Maybe I've got it wrong. And maybe you would look at or even handle this entire situation completely different than I would. That is ok. All I know is that this mother made me extremely nervous. She was uptight and overbearing, controlling and aggressive. She did not seem to be loving or gentle rather dominating and stressed. It was a pitiful sight that saddened me for her child. I said to Daniel, "that is the perfect example of why I want us to be 'yes parents,' and to let our kids be kids."

He, of course, wanted me to just ignore the whole situation. But I couldn't. It was happening right in front of me and although I saw the whole thing, it was with embarrassed eyes that I witnessed this mother 'parenting.'
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure she was doing her best. In fact, I know she thought she was. We all do things differently and in public alot of parents even think they have to show more control of their children because of judgements from others. That is a true shame, in my opinion.

Let me just make it clear that if Braden got hit by another little boy, I would probably hug him, tell him to buck up and go play. If it happened again, I would probably address the other child and say "please don't hit buddy...he's just little." and go about my business.
If it happened a third time, my boy better hit back.
nah, just kidding. [sorta.]

We don't hit. That's not nice. But I won't always be there to fight his fights, so I can only pray we will equip our son with some coping skills that will teach him how to deal with situations like this effectively in the future. I know they're little. Please don't write me about how it is my responsibility to protect him, and nurture him. I am aware of this role in my world:)
I am also aware that I am in the business of bringing up a boy. And it is a tricky balancing act of teaching gentleness and assertiveness.

Ok, that was slightly off topic.
I will never forget the face of the mother at McDonald's. Let me say, for the record, that I do not think she is a bad mom. She is just practicing the kind of mothering that I do not want to. She was a perfect illustration of how I do not want to treat my child--whether in public or at home.
The poor little guy didn't even get a break to play. He just got 'taught' the entire time. And parenting is about teaching. It is about training.
But it is about letting children be children because the big stuff will all follow.

So if you are wondering,
yes, I let my children sit on the table while playing play dough.
(and I'm choosing not to make a big deal of it.)
yes, I let me children go outside with barely any clothes on.
(we did it. we're ok.)
yes, I let me kids take all the cushions off the couch and build towers.
(they can get hurt, I know. but I'm choosing to let go a bit...)
yes, I let them eat doughnuts for supper.
(get over it.)
yes, they eat candy when they want it.
(for breakfast?)
yes, I let them stay up too late sometimes.
(they sleep later, and it's not hurting any of us.)
And to many other things we say:
Yes. Yes. Yes.

This way of parenting is a balancing act as well. Their daddy isn't quite as keen on allowing them to do everything that I am. He says it's all about "the principle." I understand that, so we often discuss our parenting, evaluate it and make adjustments. It's a constant conversation.
Trust me, we say plenty of
No, No, No! as well.
However, if you see our kids in public, or interact with them at all you will see that they are well rounded, smart, follow directions and have great manners. They aren't being negatively affected by our choice to actually let them be kids.
In fact, I believe quite the opposite is true.

Braden came to us soon after the hitting incident at McDonald's and asked for a drink of pop. When his daddy said, "no, son, go play..."
...Braden cried. A Braden cry.
A full out fit.
And we stared back at him.
And then he walked away and continued to play.
We didn't address it. We acted how we would act at home or anywhere else.
That mother loathed me at that exact moment and I could see it in her eyes when they met mine.
I laughed.
Shame on me for my lack of parenting.

Thank you, McDonald's mom. You taught me some very good lessons this week.

So, friends, whether you love me or hate me after this post is not really my concern. But I am curious--
Are you a "yes mom"
And if so, how?
If not, why?
Can't wait to hear from you!!!


THE FOUR OF US! said...

Love this post! I couldn't agree with you more...

Anonymous said...

No, I am not a 'yes mom'. Miranda has rules and boundaries and I stick to them. I make sure she is polite and (as much as I can) well-behaved at all times. We have a schedule that we try to stay true to as well and meal times that are structured. I am not because I feel that it is my job as a mom to enforce the rules of society. There are times, especially during play that I do just let her be a kid though. I try not to hover or be over disciplined though like the mom you described at McDonald's. I'm somewhere between you and her.

It honestly, does not concern me how other people raise their kids though. Everyone does things differently and for the most part, everyone comes out okay in the end.

Sarah said...

I'm not sure if I am a yes or a no mom. I DO know that I 100% agree with what you had to say.

I say yes more than Johnny does, thats for sure, but I also expect a lot out of my girls.

We went to McDonald's too the other day and there was a little girl who had a toy. She was playing near the bottom of the slide so naturally when my girls came down, they wanted to play too. The little girl then pushed Alyssa's hand/arm away and said very rudely, "Don't touch my toys! I don't want to play with you!" I was a little mad, but I just went and gathered up my girls and told them to go play and that the little girl wasn't very good at sharing.

My girls also run around naked (indoors) and {GASP} I even let them pee outside the other day when we walked to the park and they couldn't hold it. haha. you do what you have to do! :)

good post!

Tiffany said...

Great topic - really made me think. I believe we are somewhere in the middle with our parenting. We have high expectations for our children, but they are age appropriate expectations. At the same time we do have FUN and let them be children and use grace in certain circumstances. It is a balancing act for me. I pray that I am raising them the way God wants me to, and I try not to worry {too much} about what others think.

Kalli said...

I guess I'm a maybe mom. I let the kids play and be kids, but I make sure they are doing it in a structured, healthy way. That includes telling other kids that they need to be nicer. I have talked to Ry about asking kids to simply be nicer if they are mean, or tell them to leave her be if they can't play nice, and she practices it. But I have no problem telling some kid that is being mean to either of the kids to ease off. I may not punish them like McDonald's lady did, but I say "sweetie, we shouldn't hit" or something along those lines. I think I have a problem because a lot of the kids who hit-their parents are usually not paying attention or will let them go about doing what their doing without correcting it.
As long as my kids are not doing something that harms them or others in some way, I'm a yes mom. I'm too laid back to be uptight all the time.

rameelin said...

Thanks for all the great input! I definately didn't want to come across like our children have no structure, routine, rules or boundaries. I am sure that it is evident that they do. If you know me even a little, you know that a schedule is very important to maintaining a healthy household (or at least in our world.)

It is just that in certain situations, I understand that although they are learning great principles from our teaching at this age--they truly are still so little. I educate myself, read books, and pray often about how to age appropriately and effectively parent the redheads. It is very much a balancing act for us as well.

God has such awesome grace in our lives, and I'm trying very hard to practice that with my kids as well. They have rules. I want them to behave well. I want them to know that there is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in society, but ultimately we answer to God and not the world and as long as they are raised up and trained with that as the core of my focus, the rest will fall into place. It's an awesome feeling knowing that by teaching them the Word of God--they will learn to do things that are pleasing to Him and that will be their desire.

Anyway....I love all the responses. :)

Kristi said...

With my oldest (Chloe) I was a hover mom - I wouldn't have tried to discipline another child but I would have spoken up & let the child know they were in the wrong (nicely of course). With my 2nd (Cooper) I relaxed more - maybe because he was a boy, maybe because I was had more mommy experience? With my 3rd (Piper) all bets are off - as long as she's not hurt (or hurting anyone else) I let her go.

Looking at my 3 kids - Chloe (5th grade)is a very tender hearted child. She is also a very tentative/cautious girl and tries very hard to never hurt anyone's feelings. Cooper (3rd grade) knows how far he can push the limit without getting into much trouble. Piper (31 mos) is my bull headed child - everything is done on her terms. Are they this way because of how I parented them or is this just their nature?

We adopted Piper at 23 mos - until that point, she spent time in an orphanage where it was "fight for survival" mode, then 8 mos with a foster family where they referred to her as the "Little Empress".

Always enjoy your posts!