It happened again last week, this time while we were in line at a drugstore.
There was a fellow mom waiting in front of us. She also had two kids, a boy and a girl.
As she was reaching into her purse for something, her son screamed and proceeded to snatch candy off the shelf.
Snickers and Three Musketeers went crashing to the floor, followed quickly by Butterfingers and bags of Skittles.
As the mom scurried to contain her son and simultaneously scoop up the fallen candy, her daughter picked up where her brother left off, sweeping her hand carelessly across the shelves of candy and knocking them to the floor.
I watched the scene in horror, unsure of whether I should help pick up the candy. As she stood up, her eyes fell on my daughters quietly standing beside me and she gave me a wistful expression.
AS SHE STOOD UP, HER EYES FELL ON MY DAUGHTERS QUIETLY STANDING BESIDE ME AND SHE GAVE ME A WISTFUL EXPRESSION.
Then she said it: “Your kids are so well-behaved. You’re so lucky!”
The ends of my mouth twitched and I managed a prim smile.
Just two days before, at a friend’s home, my kids were playing with my friend’s six-year-old daughter.
As the trio raced through the kitchen and out to the backyard, I called out to Pumpkin to slow down a bit and not to run in the house.
She skidded to a halt, glanced back at my serious expression, and did a quick walk instead behind her friend.
“I wished my daughter listened to me,” sighed my friend. “You’re so lucky!”
It’s hard not to feel frustrated and unsure of what to answer in these situations, because Luck has nothing to do with it.
On one hand, I want to accept these compliments with a good-natured shrug, but on the other hand, I feel as though I’d be selling myself short if I do.
ON ONE HAND, I WANT TO ACCEPT THESE COMPLIMENTS WITH A GOOD-NATURED SHRUG, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, I FEEL AS THOUGH I’D BE SELLING MYSELF SHORT IF I DO.
Raising kids takes a lot of work. Any parent will tell you that. Raising kids who listen to you (most of the time) and know how to behave in public takes a shit ton of work.
When a child acts out at home, it’s crucial to address it immediately and communicate with him or her, finding out why she feels the way she does, and demonstrating a more appropriate response. Over and over and over again.
Consistency is key, as exhausting as it is, but it certainly is no accident.
Tantrums happen. Kids act out. But turning to another mom and telling her She Is Lucky is straight up offensive and shows complete disregard for what she’s had to go through to get to where her kids are now.
TANTRUMS HAPPEN. KIDS ACT OUT. BUT TURNING TO ANOTHER MOM AND TELLING HER SHE IS LUCKY IS STRAIGHT UP OFFENSIVE AND SHOWS COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR WHAT SHE’S HAD TO GO THROUGH TO GET TO WHERE HER KIDS ARE NOW.
What those moms don’t see are the back-to-back time-outs, the shouting, the threats to take away toys or privileges, the negotiating, the self-doubt I feel that I may possibly be turning my own children against me by doing these things, yet plodding forward anyway–because I’ll be damned if my kids end up not learning right from wrong.
I’m not a perfect mom, nor would I ever profess to be. I have lots to learn and more than that before I ever feel satisfied with how I’m doing.
But to the moms out there who look down at her kids throwing candy in the store, then back at mine, with a wistful expression of “You’re so lucky!” on the tip of your tongue: Don’t say it.
It is offensive to me and all the hard work I put in to raising my children to be good citizens, no matter how tiring it is, or how much my kids may hate me in that moment for doing so.
That simple phrase belittles all my efforts and struggles in shaping my children into one day being considerate and respectful adults.