Thursday, September 30, 2010

A moment to treasure

Today I picked up Elli at daycare and had roughly the worst time possible doing so.  When I arrived she refused to leave, she refused to use the toilet, she refused to pull up her pants, she refused to put on her shoes, and eventually I ended up tossing her over my shoulder in a fireman's carry and carting her out the door.  We went home 4 blocks that way with her writhing and screaming at the top of her lungs, wailing about how I was hurting her.  The looks I got from nearby pedestrians were very interesting as they tried to avoid eye contact with me while simultaneously checking us out to be sure if this was a kidnapping case, child abuse or just a tired parent hauling a misbehaving child.  Usually as we got closer they would tense up, hearing her screams of agony (she fakes agony pretty well, I must say) and then when they heard me say "If you won't walk then you have to be carted Elli, if you don't like this then just walk." they calmed right down and continued on their way.  I deliberately saved my offers of walking for when we were passing big groups of people to cut down on the chance that someone would decide to do something dumb like call the police.  While nothing I was doing was remotely illegal or immoral I don't particularly want an overzealous bureaucracy getting involved.

I am sure that reactions also really varied between parents and non parents.  People who recently have been through the situation of having a child simply refuse to walk and being forced to bodily haul them places seem to understand much better than those who have never felt that first hand.  I also find that the older someone is the less disturbed by such things they are, presumably due to changes in child rearing standards.  If you grew up with regular violence being considered good parenting and 'spare the rod and spoil the child' being a widely accepted truth I would expect you to be much less disturbed by a child being tossed over a shoulder, whereas there is a really substantial portion of the population in my generation who honestly thinks that any form of physical force is unacceptable.  To be sure, those that think that are largely speaking not parents because eventually a toddler will cure most people of such nonsense.

The funny thing is, despite the fact that lots of people would find my solution quite horrible, I feel like I was taking the challenging way out.  In generations past Elli would have found herself grabbed by the ear and towed along with as much twisting and yanking as was necessary to get her to move, or perhaps spanked or slapped right then and there to ensure obedience.  I wonder whether or not this 'lesser violence' that I employed was actually any better than the direct version that used to be the norm.  It certainly created a scene, it surely made both me and Elli very frustrated and angry and I still had to flagrantly violate her right to control her own body.  Would just grabbing her ear and dragging her along have been better?  Would a swift spanking have even worked?  These are the sorts of questions you end up pondering when getting pummeled about the shoulders by a freaked out child, walking along the street towards home.

1 comment:

  1. I find that one form of punishment isn't always more effective as another. Tugging by the ear just seems mean to me, and, looking at your situation, a spanking would have only hurt your hand and her bottom. I'm guessing she still would probably continued having a meltdown. I think it's about picking your battles. Katie doesn't like to stay in the cart at the grocery store. But instead of fighting her on it, I let her walk and distract her with pushing the cart or putting groceries in it. However, if she refuses to obey when she's putting herself in potential danger (running away in the parking lot), a firm hand does generally work. And when it doesn't, I too use the "sack of potatoes" hold.