I question my parenting skills on a daily basis.  Really, I do.  I know there are some things I do really well – like avoidance – and things I do really horribly – like maintain some sort of order.  But, in general, I fight the battles in the privacy of my own home with only friends and my husband to judge.  And they all know better.  

But when I have to take my kids somewhere, my parenting skills are on display.  Open to judgement, strange looks, disapproving sighs and the ever popular flippant comment.  And this stresses me out.  To the point where I am leery to ever leave the house ever.

Unfortunately, I have no choice sometimes.  Because I want my children to be well taken care of, I am forced to make appointments and keep them.  Today, the bi- annual dental appointments called.  I debated canceling, especially since Megan got up at 3am with teething and, we were shopping at Wal- Mart at 4am because she wouldn’t go back to sleep, and I was a very tired, stressed out Mother.  

I gathered my brood, my strength and my resolve and off we went.  

Sarah did great!  She played hopscotch on the rug at the entry, talked to the dental assistants like they were old friends, got her teeth x – rayed, cleaned and polished better than most adults.  I was very, very proud of her!  

Megan did what babies do.  She ran around, flashing her 6 tooth smile for all of the front office staff to fall in love with.  It was a good thing she was happy to be the cuteness of the office because Katie was taking all of my attention!

Talk about a temper tantrum, full on, danger to herself and society as a whole, flip out!  Oh.My.Gosh!

The tears started the second we walked into the waiting room.  I don’t know how she knew, since she’d only been there once and seemed to enjoy it.  But she did.  And she let every single person in that waiting room and on that staff know that she was not kidding when she screamed at the top her of her lungs, “I want to go hoooooooommmmeeee!”

At that moment, I did too.  


Trying to console her was fruitless.  I had my hands full.  I was trying to praise Sarah, chase Megan and keep Katie from scaring the bejeebers out of every other child in the office.  Since failure in accomplishing that was my only option, I finally told her that she could take her little crying self into another room and come out when she was a big girl.  

I believe I got some looks for this.  Not from the staff, but from another Mother.

Oh well.  YOU raise her!

As embarrassment from listening to her scream so loud, I could not hear the Doctor reddened my face, I started in on my excuses.  

“Just ignore her, she does this when she does not want to do something and I can’t let her be like that.”

“Uh- huh.” 

“We just really want her to control her emotions more.”

“Uh – huh”

“We only beat her at home, so you’ll just have to deal with it here.”

Ok -that one I didn’t say.  I lied.  But I would have loved to see their faces if I had.

The routine “We see this all the time” comments came from the staff, but I could tell, as a seasoned “oh my gosh, please make her stop it!” look in their eyes was evident.  

As she came back into the room and we tried, unsuccessfully, to get her calmed down and in the chair, I basically turned my back to her.  I ignored her begging to be picked up, her stomping on the floor, messy eyes and runny nose.  I felt awful but I thought, in my novice parenting opinion, that acknowledging her behavior would just feed it.  

They asked me if they could take her to the game room and I said “No thanks.  She does not get rewarded for this type of behavior.”

There it was.  The judgmental, you’re a very mean Mommy, look that I always like to see, want to remember and wish I had a camera to permanently have evidence of to use for bragging rights later.  

Again, you can take over any time now.  I won’t mind.  Just send me pictures.

As we are finally leaving, me looking like a crazed animal, Sarah with fresh, clean teeth, Megan screaming that she is all done being cute, and Katie still crying despite the fact that nothing happened to her, I apologize once more and set them their next appointment.  I hear Katie and Sarah about to start a fight over the toothbrushes they got.  


I turn, exorcist style, and snap, “Cool it, now.”

Putting my fangs back in my head, I turn back just in time to catch another Mother in the waiting room shake her head – obviously at me.  

I know in my head that I am a topic of conversation as I leave.  Judgement on how I handled Katie, my temper and my hairbrush will all be discussed.  And I know I will spend the drive home analyzing how I could have done a better job at working with her.  I will promise to be more patient, more understanding, more elegant in my public disciplinarian style.

And I will fail.  Over and over again.  But I will keep trying, if only to slightly improve my public displays of parenting.  

Because it is my job.  And I take pride in my job.

Really, I do.