lightbulb moment

I have a few (shut-up Doug) self-esteem issues. I’ve joked before that we don’t go to parties because I’d be hiding under tables while Doug used tools to make sure the tables were aligned correctly. Yesterday at Target, Amy decided to exhibit her less-than-charming ability to throw a huge tantrum. My father tried to end the curly hair tyrant’s screaming as Doug calmly and silently tucked her under his arm and carried her out of the store. “I am VERY embarrassed at this behavior young lady. Everybody is looking at you. Everybody is watching you act very naughty.” At that exact moment, with my father’s words still hanging in the air, I had a moment of clarity and childhood flashback that almost made me freeze and drop my jaw while I processed this new insight into myself. I wouldn’t want to do anything to make people look at me, so I shuffled to the car and hugged Amy until her frustration was released. Most of the people in Target could care less how Amy wailed and flailed. Neither hitting nor guilt was appropriate for Amy’s frustration at not getting her way. I cringe when I see parents smacking their unhappy, overwhelmed children in public. Words can have the same sting and power as a swat on the bottom. Removing her audience and ignoring her behavior was the quickest way to snuff her flame. I knew people were wrong when they chided me for not slapping and spanking Tommy when he had sensory overload tantrums but that didn’t stop me from crying and self-doubt in private. I no longer question myself for the way I discipline my children. I have enough neurosis without it. Like worrying that people are looking at me negatively.

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