It Takes A Village: I’ll Discipline Your Brat If I Need To

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I really hate to sound like that old-timer complaining about the way things used to be, but I’m going to do it anyway. When I was a child, absolutely every adult was a “big person” that I considered to be all-powerful and all-knowing. From teachers to babysitters, from second cousins to the person at the grocery store check-out, I held my tongue and smiled politely. The balance of power was very clear – there was no balance. It was all tipped on the other side of the scale.

As a kid, I wouldn’t have batted an eye if a neighbor scolded me while I was playing in front of their house. It would never have seemed odd to hear extended family tell me to “Mind my manners.” And I would’ve never, ever ran to my mother assuming that she would take my side over a grown-up who had chastised me.

Alas (these stories always have to use that word, it’s a literary contractual obligation), times are different now. Some parents consider someone else disciplining their children to be the height of insult. And ya know what? Children understand that.

Two days a week, I take a little girl from pre-school to daycare with my daughter when their morning classes end. Her mother works for the school district and isn’t able to leave in the middle of the day. With my more flexible schedule, I volunteered to run the girls back and forth to school.

And two days a week, this little girl asks if I’ll turn on a movie for them to watch on our 3 second drive from pre-school to daycare. In the beginning, I assumed it was a novelty. After all, I think that having a DVD player in the car is kinda nice. And even though I normally don’t let my daughter watch it unless a long trip is involved, I conceded and let the girls watch approximately 5 seconds of Oliver & Company or Monsters vs. Aliens on our trip.

After a while, this routine got to be a little tedious. I had assumed that the glamour of a movie in the car would’ve worn off a little. I started to explain to the girls that it wasn’t a long trip and we didn’t need a movie. During one such conversation, I turned around to see my daughter’s classmate sticking out her tongue and making faces behind my back. She was obviously angry that I was telling her no. When I began to chastise the little girl for making inappropriate faces at an adult, she rolled her eyes.

Moms, you know the eyeroll I’m talking about. It’s that exaggerated, “You have know idea what you’re talking about” eyeroll that little girls perfect way too soon. I’ve seen this look from my daughter before and I’m pretty sure that in the right circumstances, it could incite a riot.

In that moment, my disciplinarian came front and center. I got my best glare on and I said, “That makes me very upset to see you behave that way to an adult. I’m sure your mother would be very disappointed. You know better than make faces at a grown-up.”

The little girl, who I know is a sweet child that just happened to make a bad choice, stayed silent for the entire car ride. She didn’t speak to me as she walked in to daycare and sat down to lunch. She never apologized. When our confused daycare provider asked me what the problem was, since angry pre-schoolers aren’t normally subtle with their emotions, I started to explain about our trip home. The girl whispered to her friends, “The problem is that Brenna’s mommy is a jerk.” Don’t you love how when kids whisper, you can always hear them.

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