Saturday, August 23, 2008

To the lady at the mall

Some stranger whose face I never saw and whose name I will never know may have just possibly changed my life last weekend. I was at the mall with both kids, trying to take advantage of the tax-free weekend and end-of-season sales to find some clothes to put up for Hannah so she won't have to go naked next summer. As I was looking through a clearance rack, I heard a child start to throw a tantrum in the aisle right next to me. Then I heard a spank, followed by, "Do it again." More tantrum, another spank, another "Do it again." Still another tantrum, still another spank, and still another "Do it again." Then . . . silence. That was it. "Are you finished?" she asked. That was it. End of tantrum.

Overall, I consider myself a pretty confident person. But for whatever reason, when it comes to parenting, I doubt myself every time. I ask myself if I'm over-reacting. I wonder if this is what people mean when they say, "Don't break her spirit." Sometimes I even think maybe the reason she throws fits is because she's full of anger because we spank her. Yep, sad as it might be, it's all true. But I heard something loud and clear in the quiet voice of the lady at the mall: confidence. And that, I realized, is where most of my problems come from. I doubt myself as a parent, and I have one smart little 5-year-old who has figured it out and knows how to play it for all it's worth.

So to the lady at the mall, whoever you are—thank you for your example. Thank you for being a responsible parent who wants her child to learn what is and is not acceptable. Thank you for being calm and confident as you put and end to your child's behavior. Thank you for disciplining your child in public, even though that is such a hard thing to do these days. May you be blessed for the way our 10 seconds together has quite possibly changed my life!

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