There is a first, I guess, to all things in parenting. My recent parenting first: someone else, a stranger, disciplining my child.
It wasn’t a big offense that my daughter committed. The setting: a toddler/mommy story time. The named “offender”: the story time reader, I mean, my daughter.
As is typical of these shindigs, between the event’s host (hereafter named as story time reader) reading stories, there are activities and songs played (and sung) from a CD player. This CD player sits like a beacon of temptation within reach of all the toddlers at the story time.
And while most children don’t bother trying, my daughter, on this occasion, wanted to try, albeit, unsuccessfully to play with Mr. player by pressing the buttons and increasing and decreasing the volume. Yes, she would try, but each time, I would prevent her, telling her that rather than the player, there were other things of interest, namely a lamb stuffed animal that reeked of toddler saliva and cheese crackers.
But the lamb wasn’t of interest, so she kept edging towards the CD player. And each time, I would prevent her access. I was handling it well, I thought. But, apparently not “well” enough to others. With my daughter’s last and final try, the story time reader intervened, telling my daughter that she needed to “sit down” and “NOT TOUCH THAT!” Her voice raised on “TOUCH.”
I think there was a bird that I heard outside then. A bird and the humming air conditioner. Otherwise, the room was completely silent. Too embarrassed to look up at the other moms, I looked instead to my daughter who took the reader’s cue and sat down in my lap, with puppy dog eyes and a thumb in her mouth.
“How dare she stifle my daughter’s spirit of exploration!,” I thought, then got a grip in realizing that my daughter did need, at least at that moment, her spirit to be a bit stifled.
“So, the “cruel” story time reader’s disciplining worked, but we’ll see how long this lasts,” I said with, likely, a sinister looking smile upon my face that probably made me look crazier than I would have liked at that moment.
Ten minutes went by and my daughter didn’t attempt to touch that CD player. Then twenty. Then thirty. Then forty: the duration of the story time. My daughter didn’t touch that CD player the entire class on account of the story time reader’s admonition. “Darn it!”
So, with no vindication to feel any relief by, I settled with the next “best” parenting emotion: incompetency. “Why did my daughter listen to her and not me?” “Maybe I’m too easy on her and I don’t even know it. “Did she (the story time reader) think I wasn’t doing enough to stop my own daughter from the CD player?” “Perhaps, in working with so many children, she’s developed mystical powers making her capable of recognizing incompetence in parents?” “Am I really incompetent?” “Why did she (story time reader) have to yell at her?” “Maybe she’s on her period?”
“Why is this even bothering me?”
The last question stayed in my mind as we drove home from the story time. “Why did it bother me that someone else disciplined my child in presence?” “Why did I want to be the one doing the disciplining?”
“What’s wrong with me that I’m even still thinking, let alone, writing about this?”
I blame pregnancy hormones mostly, as I do with most inconvenient truths about my out of place reactions to things these days, but I know there’s more there. There always is.