Saturday, October 3, 2009
Today I had many occasions to think long and hard about disciplining my future daughter. My day began when I awoke to hear a child screaming and crying at my door step. My husband and I walked to the door and looked out the peephole to see a two year old banging on the door to his apartment crying "mommy please let me in."
I was stunned. This is an apartment complex. Locking your child out of your home in your locked backyard where you can watch them through the window is one thing, and even that's questionable, beyond questionable as young as two, it's plain wrong. But to lock your child out of your apartment? There are three other people who live on this floor, any one of them could snatch that kid in a heart beat. Heck, I was less than two feet away standing at my door! Also, stairwell! Right there. Kid could have fallen down it and broken his neck.
About the time I was seriously trying to figure out what to do (do I mind my own business, do I call the police, do I step outside with the kid until his parents let him in, do I knock on their door?) the kids dad stepped out of the house and asked if his son was ready to behave, swatted him on the bottom, and pushed him inside.
I couldn't help but think I didn't really have any viable options. I couldn't talk to the parents, they speak spanish (I'm assuming he asked if the kid was ready to behave by tone, and response) I don't know them and couldn't even begin to open a dialogue, and what to say? I feel uncomfortable with your child screaming outside my door?
I couldn't wait outside with the kid, that could be misconstrued as something else, and I don't want to teach this kid that when mom and dad are mean run to strangers. I mean I wouldn't do anything to him, but someone else could.
And I couldn't call the police. For all I knew they were watching through their peephole the entire time, it seemed an extreme and stupid punishment to me, but criminal? On the other hand I couldn't walk away and mind my own business because my god, what if something had happened to that kid?
I think I may mention it to the landlord on Monday, not in a whistle blowing child abuse way, because like I said, for all I know he was watching the entire time, and it was fine, but just to give them a heads up over what is surely a liability for the management company. Unattended children in the common areas, also loud unattended children in the common areas. I can't hear the other apartments at all, but this kid woke me up because he was right outside my door. That's not really considerate of the neighbors either. Then if they see it as child endangerment, balls in their court, not mine. I don't know, I feel very conflicted about this.
One thing I don't feel conflicted about is these recent news stories about strangers spanking, or slapping other peoples children. Alright, we've all been there, small child is screaming bloody murder and pitching a fit in the aisles while the mom calmly shops for that perfect apple with no bruises, taking her sweet time. We've maybe all even thought "I'd like to slap that woman," or "that child needs a spanking." But no one actually does it! It's assault! You can't just choose to discipline someone else's kid, that is completely overstepping.
What's more, these people were in stores, grocery stores, and goodwill. What the heck do you expect? I hate going to walmart, who can blame the kid for crying about being there. In the rare instance I've actually grown annoyed enough at children's behavior in public, its been when they were in places they shouldn't be. (Midnight screenings of Terminator: Judgement Day for example, cool movie, not so awesome for the three year old girl who keeps screaming in terror and coughing and sneezing, and whining that she wants to go home. Only in that case I wanted to beat the parent brainless, and rescue the poor child) Or really fancy restaurants running around without a parent, taking food off my plate. Yes, I considered slapping the child's hand, but I didn't! I got my waiters attention, and got a new plate, and walked the child back to its mother with a to go box of the plate it touched and a bill. (What? The kid had been crawling on the floor and chewing on its hand, I don't want to eat that. Something I'm sure I'll get over as a mom, but I really shouldn't have to get over as a random stranger. And no, the mom didn't pay me for the meal, and I didn't demand that she did, restaurant didn't charge me any extra for replacing the food, but I got my message across with no rude discussions, and a gracious smile, as opposed to slapping the child or screaming at the mom.)
Anyway, my point is, you can't slap, spank, or really even touch someone else's kid. It's not appropriate. These people deserve jail time. I don't know what I'm going to do when my child has a melt down in public. I can tell you now that I won't be taking my child to any movies rated more than PG for the first twelve years of her life, and I'll save everything above applebees price range for my date night with my husband (kids don't appreciate it anyway) but yeah, I may be at the mall or grocery store with my kid, and if she pitches a full out fit, I will handle it whichever way works best. I don't know yet if that's spanking, yelling, leaving, or ignoring, I think it varies with every child. But God help me if you so much as lay a finger on my daughter I will end your miserable existence.