Suzi has been pitching some serious fits lately. Several weeks ago there was a big one in the food court at the mall over Aiden not letting her ride in the front of the fire engine rental stroller. People stared--not just to see what was going on, but to make me feel bad. I could see it in their ugly, gaping expressions. Sorry, people, but I will not stop bringing my daughter out in public. Next time Megan and I are totally making them walk though. Then the other day my mom and dad took Suzi to Cracker Barrel and she reportedly threw an embarrassing fit over a $2 toy, making my dad want to sink into the floor and disappear. I am so proud of my mom for not giving in and calmly walking Suzi out of the store. Not all grandparents would do this. Tonight we were all tired after spending the day at Grandma and Grandpa's house and it was getting late, but she wanted to stay at Grandma's and play. She started hitting as we made her put her play dough away, so I took her straight to the van. She was screaming about a plastic pig she wanted to borrow from Grandma and Grandpa's house, but I wasn't about to go back because I knew the fit would only worsen. We've been in similar situations and she realizes we want her to stop screaming, so she will see how far she can push us to get what she wants. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't feel it's smart to negotiate like this. She went on and on about the pig as we drove, screeching and crying and gasping in between sobs. I felt so bad for her. I remember being there, at that age, so upset, too small to get what I wanted and unable to convey what I was feeling. Why don't they see how important the pig is?
And I throw fits too. I throw fits about toys scattered all over the house. I throw fits when I feel overwhelmed. I especially throw fits, at no particular person, when I lose stuff, because it pushes my buttons. I understand how it feels to be out of control of a situation and to get frustrated, so I try to listen to Suzi and help her when she's upset. I draw the line at hitting, though, and Jordan and I are disappointed that Suzi has picked up this habit even though we've never hit her.
I wonder if sometimes I am not understanding enough. At some point I read a book which told me to ask myself why I am parenting in a certain way. Usually I think of times when I might have reacted too harshly. The reasons I generally think of are relics from my past: Children should not hit. Parents should do whatever is necessary to prove hitting doesn't work. Jordan and I agree it is not okay to hit our children and we are proud to have never gone there for any reason. We have that going for us. Still, sometimes I feel my reactions are high in consistency and calmness but low in compassion. Where is that thin little line between compassion and spoiling, and how am I supposed to find it on the spur of the moment in the midst of such a ruckus?
Maybe I should've gone back for the pig.