A glutton for punishment

“Aren’t they mean? You poor little thing.”
Mum and I turned around.
A woman was walking behind us through Target, looking sympathetically at my little Master Three and then shaking her head angrily at us.
“Now hang on a minute,” I said, stopping to confront her.
But she walked on.
“I’d love to hear what you’d do!” my mum yelled after her.
I shushed her.
We were beginning to look like bogans itching for a fight.
In Target.
And Master Three was watching.
He’d been going through a stage of hiding in clothes racks whenever I was shopping.
Usually I could see an arm dangling below the racks of bras… or a cheeky eye peeking out between the maxi dresses.
But this time he’d completely disappeared.
In a panic, mum and I had approached a store security guard who helped us find him.
A gigantic man in black, we let him ‘have a word’ with the little Master, who clearly thought he ranked high in the world’s police force.
Terrified, he agreed to never do it again before bursting into tears.
Mum and I had been reiterating the point when our observer butted in, clearly unimpressed with the way I’d handled things.
In that moment, I wished he wasn’t mine.
I wished he was hers and that she was having to deal with his constant disappearances and the heart-in-mouth panic that followed.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been shamed for my discipline technique.
That same year, my parents and I had taken Master Three to the Gold Coast for a week.
We’d of course visited Dream World, where Master Three had engaged in one of his other new and annoying games – running away.
He’d spotted some remote control sail boats and dashed after them, without looking back or heeding our calls.
This too was becoming all too regular and I decided it was time to teach him a lesson.
We followed him until his fat little legs stopped below the controls, pushing himself up on tiptoe so he could ‘steer a boat’.
I pulled mum and dad behind a big pylon, out of the Master’s sight.
And we waited.
Dad was clearly uncomfortable with the idea but evil Nanna relished the opportunity to teach her grandson a lesson.
For a while anyway.
After my toddler’s casual glances turned into panicked stares, she too was ready to run to his rescue.
But I made them stay put.
By now, Master Three had now lost all interest in the sailboats and was sweeping the crowds desperately with fearful eyes.
Remember the anti-smoking ad where the little boy loses his mummy at the train station?
That was Master Three.
He burst into tears.
When two teenage girls approached him, I quickly intervened, explaining to them the lesson this tiny little mess of blonde curls was being taught.
Horrified, they backed away, whispering behind their hands.
I felt bad.
But I was a mummy fed up with being hurled to the edge of my greatest fear – losing my child.
I wonder now how effective those ‘lessons’ ever were.
Did Master Seven think of that man in black every time he started to step into a clothes rack?
Did he remember ‘losing mummy’ the last time he ran away?
Would I employ the same tactics on Li’l Fatty once he found his mischievous gene?
I’m not so sure.
You see, kids go through stages.
And these particular stages are pretty much universal.
Like those rides at Dreamworld, they can be unbearable journeys to take.
But they do end.
They stop hiding in clothes racks, they stop running away.
They learn to poo on the toilet and go to sleep in their beds.
They get hungrier and start eating vegies.
You can try and nip it in the bud.
Or you can just wait it out.
But punishing them…
Well, sometimes it’s a bit more like punishing yourself.

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2 thoughts on “A glutton for punishment

  1. Too right its like punishing yourself, I’ve carried kicking and screaming children under my arm like a football to get them out of friends houses, supermarkets, music groups, etc. But I still apply the nasty mummy technique for the big ticket items, I am the boss, it is not a democracy, end of story. They both hold my hands when near a road, they don’t run away and those are my main two. My almost 2yr old would scream the house down if I picked her up (little miss independent) but if she wasn’t holding my hand I’d hoik her over my shoulder like a bag of spuds if need be. Most other things are negotiable according to my energy levels 🙂

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