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Public Discipline = Public Humiliation

Posted Mar 31 2009 11:38pm

I’ve been looking out the window all week to see if DHR was going to send someone to our house. I could argue that the incident was innocent enough, that my son was overreacting because he was in dire need of a nap.  I doubt that would hold up well in court. But it’s the truth.


Not my son, but the tantrum face is uncanny.

It all started last weekend at Lowe’s Home Improvement. The gorgeous weather lured us to walk through the garden shop – along with everyone else in the city – to consider all the things we should plant once we find the time to actually do something productive. We even picked out a few things, only to put them back after discovering it would take longer to stand in line to pay for our finds than it would to actually plant the flowers. The mere act of moving a blue flower from our buggy back to its spot in the garden center was enough to unglue my child. “But I want it!” he screamed. The screaming turned into wails and the flailing of arms. I leaned down to my son to quiet him because, after all, he was making quite a scene, when he suddenly reared back and swung an arm at me. I raised my hand and our hands connected, making a loud SLAP that startled us both. Rick quickly grabbed Truman and gave him a swat on the backside.

Honestly, it wasn’t so much a swat as it was a pat. A little tap on the rear to get his attention. We’re not opposed to spankings but they don’t really work on Truman. We usually take away a favorite toy and that gets us the best results. No kidding, but the few times we have spanked Truman he’s responded with a laugh.

Not this time. No, this time he began wailing and screaming, “You hurt me! Stop hurting me!” We were mortified. We looked at each other and sighed, picked up our sniffling son and headed to the car. As we walked past the long line of people waiting at the register, I heard one woman say loudly, “I was never spanked as a child. I just don’t see how people can do that!”

Give me a break. I looked at the woman, then at Rick, and rolled my eyes. She probably doesn’t have children or if she does, she probably doesn’t live in the real world.

The story should have ended there, with us heading on our merry way comforted in that none of the strangers there knew us. But it’s not that simple. Not when you’re married to the local television newsman who spends four hours a day on TV on the No. 1 morning news program in the state. There are just a few places in our relatively small town where he goes unnoticed. Lowe’s is not one of them. And now that morning newsman would get labeled as a public child-spanker. This, the man who loves his son so dearly that just talking about his little boy can move him to tears.

Luckily, DHR never came. The gossip never made it to the papers. And we have been able to walk into Lowe’s since without feeling disgraced. I have read from The Go-To Mom
that “disciplining children in public can humiliate, embarrass and anger your child even more. Plus with an audience, she knows how vulnerable you both are.”

If you were curious if that were true, then let our experience be your proof.

(photo, Flickr, hyperscholar )


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