Those in need of non-stop hilarity just skip on down to the next posting. I was just at the fabric store and was in line behind a woman and her little girl, probably about 3 years old. The child was weeping and the mother was berating her “You do not deserve that because what you did was wrong. You are bad.” I’d encountered them earlier and had scurried away b/c the mom was speaking so very viciously to this very small girl. I couldn’t think what to do to help and really, it was making me die a little inside. I know that it can help to smile at the mom and compliment her child, but this woman never stopped her tirade of nastiness. When I saw they were ahead of me in line, I should have just gone to do something else for a bit, but I wanted to get home. So I got to stand there, literally choking back sobs, while this child asked, “Why did you spank me, mama?” and her mother replied “You know why. What you did was wrong.” Now, given that the child could not have been more than 4 at the oldest, she doesn’t have a morality developed enough to do the sort of wrong this woman was insinuating. And if a child does not know why the one person she trusts above all others has caused her physical pain, the least you can do is tell her. Okay, we know I don’t believe in spanking, but lord knows I have had some less-than-proud parenting moments. And really, it isn’t even the spanking that is bothering me. It was the callousness. The little girl’s face was just destroyed. She kept trying to get in good, to make up. “Isn’t this pretty, mama?” the woman wouldn’t give. At least when she said, while rubbing her sore legs, “will you kiss it, mama?” (SOB! from me) the woman said she would.

So. I admit I give advice better than I take it. I admit I have not always been the picture of patience and kindness, particularly when any of my kids was 3 years old (they’re a special kind of deranged at that age), but this is the sort of thing that helps me remember to be better. So I’m passing it to you. If you have a child, please remember: You are his or her world. Especially before they’re out in the world of other kids and adults, parents are the beginning and end of what they know. You get to make them who whey are, how they think of themselves. If you tell them that they are bad and undeserving, they will believe you. You don’t have to be sweetness and light every moment of the day. You can even be grouchy, but please please let them know that you love them, even when they do annoying things. Please don’t belittle them. Even when they’re big and irritating in new ways, don’t make your love conditional. Don’t tell them they are bad. Don’t withhold affection as punishment. And don’t make me cry in the Jo-Anns. Or I will follow you to your car and kick your ass.

Now, back to your usual merriment.

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