I confiscated a book from my daughter that did not belong to her during church service one day. My toddler is at the stage where she cannot sit still, so my little social butterfly runs around the whole church hall greeting everyone. One of the church sisters had lent her a book but she kept bending it, so I had to take it away from her – replacing a book was not on my budget that month.
Right after I took it from her, she looked at me with her infamous serious face, and loudly said “sies!” in church, which was silent except for the priest.
“Sies” was her second word (after “mom”, of course). She picked this up from us because we would say it to her when we were changing a soiled diaper. As she grew older, the context changed and we would say it when she picked up things from the floor that she shouldn’t and attempted to eat them. She now understands that the word is used in undesirable situations.
And in her mind, my grabbing this book from her was uncalled for.
The people sitting around us heard her and thought this was rather funny. I had just been served a cold plate of attitude by a 14-month-old girl. Our two friends, who are not yet parents, were in stitches. She perfectly executed that moment with a face that indicated that she meant it, and she would not retract her words even if she knew how.
This was the moment I learnt I had to laugh certain things off. I used to be very apologetic about certain things my daughter did, especially around new people. She used to be very unsociable and looked at people with so much attitude. Some people get it, some don’t, so I found myself explaining away: “So sorry, she takes time to open up to new people. I promise, she’s not a rude girl.”
Now? I just laugh it away. If she chooses to have a face for a day, then she can keep that face, and we will try a different one tomorrow.
“I had just been served a cold plate of attitude by a 14-month-old girl.”
I’m slowly learning that my daughter is going to say and do things over which I have no control, like how she once smeared food over my best friend. She’s a child, and we are slowly learning the art of discipline, but I don’t expect her to become a well-mannered human being overnight. Laughing situations away doesn’t mean I’m going to let her get away with murder; I’m just going to learn to master the art of compartmentalising.
Some behaviours are definitely uncalled for, like her hitting other kids when they get too close. That goes into the “we need to fix it” compartment. When they do or say something really embarrassing, that goes into the “whatever” compartment – like that one tantrum she threw in the store where she got extremely loud and I could see the discomfort on people’s faces. This definitely went into the “whatever” compartment. I have my own way of dealing with tantrums, and I won’t bother apologising for the noise to strangers who are probably judging me already for my lack of discipline skills.
I will not have a heart attack by stressing over things that shouldn’t be stressed over. Parenting is really just trial and error. Most of the time, I have no idea what I am doing and when I ask for advice from other parents, I find that they too have no clue what to do when their toddlers say or do the weirdest of things. They just did anything they could think of and it worked.
So, mama, laugh it off and apologise less for your child’s behaviour. Life is too short. I could’ve prayed that the ground swallowed me up at the very moment my child decided to embarrass me in the church hall, but laughing seemed like a much better option – and it turns out it was.
So, let’s laugh together for the rest of 2019, shall we?