Thursday, January 23, 2014

D is for discipline and dumplings

I've never been much of a disciplinarian. Telling someone what to do just feels plain wrong. I go to great lengths to avoid entering into any kind of conflict and I only reluctantly became a manager at work because I knew that the lovely person I was managing wouldn't be any bother.

So a wild 14-month-old comes as quite a shock to my quiet, libertarian soul. Tantrums and strops are becoming a daily occurrence. I'm pretty fine about this, since it's all a sign of him asserting his burgeoning indepence and I believe this to be a very good thing. Also, I kind of ignore him if he's in no imminent danger and he stops eventually. So no big deal. But eating the plaster off the crumbling living room wall? I'm not so keen on that one. Or chomping on plugs of various electrical home appliances? I'm not wild about that either. I say 'no'. And then I say 'no' some more. Samuel laughs at me. 'No' is hilarious. So then I say 'bad ... BAD!' But 'bad' is also very funny.  

Often I simply sigh, bathtime comes along, the day ends and I go off and do something else, putting all thoughts of discipline out of my mind for another day. That's exactly what I did last night. I put on red lipstick and hopped aboard a train  to town for a late dim sum dinner with C, L and V. We chatted, giggled, celebrated C's birthday, discussed her imminent new arrival, and pretty much ate all the dumplings in London. It was great to see them and also to be reminded of the life going on beyond these four walls.

But you can't hide your behavioural issues behind pork buns forever. Today Samuel and I were up at the library for our nursery rhyme session and I was mortified when he gleefully ripped a page out of a library book. Oh the horror of that ripping sound. 

But here's the thing: surrounded by other babies and mums who all gasped, I really didn't know what to do. Should I have shouted at him? Made a fuss? Drew even more attention to us? Well that didn't feel right. He's too little. He didn't really understand what he was doing. He just liked the noise. And he liked feeling strong. So I quietly explained that we don't do that to books. That we value books. And then I got us the hell out of there, red cheeked.

I'm going to go back with him next week and take a new copy of the book he ruined with us. But in the meantime I'm going to have a think about how you can gently and lovingly, but effectively, instill a little discipline into a head-strong one-year-old. 

All of a sudden it feels like my parenting provision has to be stepped up from Tamagotchi level to moral compass level. That's quite a leap.

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