An Open Letter to the woman who shouted at me in the Michael's parking lot for shouting to admonish my 5 year old.
Thanks for shouting at me across the parking lot while I struggled to get my two boys out of the car and into the store this morning. It was especially helpful for you to berate and admonish me for shouting at my five year old after he quite literally slammed his door open into the fancy SUV we were parked beside. Especially since, just moments before, I said to him "Buddy, these parking spaces are small, make sure you open your door carefully, okay?"
You even asked a pointed question to get your message across: "Haven't YOU ever made a mistake?!" Why yes, self-righteous woman, yes I have. In fact, I have often made mistakes in my life. Sometimes, when I was young - let's go out on a limb and say I was 5-ish -I would make the same 'mistake' over and over (and over and over and over) again. And sometimes, when I would make this same 'mistake' for the 3rd or 6th or 17th time my parents would raise their voices. They might even shout my name in exasperation as I did to my 5 year old this morning. Yes - it hurt my feelings... but you know something? I learned. I learned that that 'mistake' that I was constantly making was not a great thing to do. I may have even figured out that I should TRY not to make that mistake again. It didn't dissuade me from looking up to my parents, respecting them, or make me ever question their love for me. I did, however, know that I was in trouble.
You see - lady in the parking lot who doesn't know me, my children or my parenting philosophies - there are many different schools of opinion on how to raise children. In fact, I would say that there are as many options as there are parents and children in the world. And in my home, we don't believe in sugar coating things. With my rather strong willed, sometimes obnoxious and opinionated and stubborn children (Hey, they get it from their mother) calmly explaining to my boys why what they're doing is wrong doesn't exactly get the point across. If I were to stop in the middle of the 38 degree parking-lot and crouch down so I was eye-to-eye with my son (because I wouldn't want to stand over him, THAT would be imposing) and say "Buddy, do you remember when I asked you to open your door carefully and you pretty much just opened your door really hard and really fast and it banged into the door of the car we were parked against and left a mark? Well, now Mommy is kind of upset because I have to go into the store and talk to a person who works there to make an announcement for the person who owns that car so that I have to let them know who I am when they decide whether or not there's damage to their car." Do you know what his response would be? Probably something along the lines of "Ok, Mom."
He wouldn't even understand that that's a problem. Sounds like Mom's got it all under control. But instead of that I shouted his name in exasperation (and a little bit of shock given how much power he put into opening the car-door) and he immediately understood that what he just did - wasn't a good thing. NO extra words required.
Now, I don't know you lady-in-the-parking-lot... no more than you know me. I don't know if you have children, if they were perfectly behaved at all times and if you were a model parent who never raised her voice - if so - kudos to you. I, however, am not that woman. I sometimes get frustrated, sometimes I raise my voice and shout, sometimes I lock myself in my bathroom and ignore my children for 10 minutes. Sometimes I slam my bedroom door, sometimes I go for a walk by myself... and I tell my children that I love them every single day.
And, to be honest, I don't know if shouting my son's name in the parking lot was the best idea, the best reaction, but it was my reaction. And I stand by it.
You see, parents are people. They make mistakes (as you asked), they do things they regret, and they make decisions based on emotions and circumstances. But it doesn't change how much we love our children, doesn't change our desire to see them learn and do their best and make their own decisions... and mistakes, don't worry, we let them make mistakes. We also help them to understand that for their decisions... mistakes or otherwise... that there are circumstances. That the world will not crouch down to their level and calmly explain why what they did was wrong... and they need to know how to deal with that too.
My son walked into the store with me, even held my hand... he wasn't heartbroken, he wasn't even upset by the time we made it the 100 feet from our car to the door.
So, lady in the lot, haven't YOU ever made a mistake? Perhaps we should all ask ourselves that before shouting at a parent for shouting at their child... just a thought.