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Ed Sundukovsky shares stories from Toronto’s West End

Kids throw tantrums, it’s a fact. How you deal with said tantrums is as varied as anything that has to do with raising kids. Rearing children is a process that can be fruitful and enlightening or exhausting and brain-numbing. Kids don’t come with an owner’s manual, but they should. What do you do when your kids start acting a fool in public or at home? How do you deal with them? Is negotiating with them a safe tactic or does it set a dangerous precedent? I don’t know, I’m hoping you’ll have some insight that I don’t.

My oldest daughter, Sophia, is a very reasonable child. She is calm and quiet and rarely makes a fuss about anything, but if she does get set off, watch out. She becomes inconsolable; no less than two hours of whimpering and off-and-on crying. Lillian, alternatively is an M-80 child. Because of her age, I’m guessing, she is quick to anger and even quicker to offer a peacemaking hug or song as the case often is.

When I was coming up, my M+P were of the “children are to be seen and not heard” era, meaning that they expected us (my sister and I) to be quiet and well behaved all the time. If we stepped out of line, as I often did, my mum was fast and loose with a slap upside the head, followed by a cutting remark. Their approach to discipline was so old school, it was essentially Cro-Magnon. Downright archaic, minus the thumb screws. But, a lot of people raised their kids by the lash. It was acceptable to spank or smack kids for “acting out”. That extreme level of parenting doesn’t appeal to me.

That extreme level of parenting doesn’t appeal to me. What do I do as the heavy? Let’s say it’s way past the kids bed time, and they need a wash. Kris or I will tell them to take their clothes off and get ready for a bath. Instead they start putting more clothes on because they’ve decided it’s time to play dress up. We tell them again “Girls, its time for a bath, lets go!” They start undressing and running around the house like naked pygmies, giggling their little asses off.

It’s really cute and all but it’s late and we are both so, so tired from long hard days. We’re pleading with them, begging even to “please come over to the bath, now please.” The little one is still chasing the big one in circles around the apartment. I’ve had enough. I yell “Sophia, Lillian get over here!” in my big Daddy voice. Sophia always has the same reaction. She walks round a corner with huge tears welling up in her perfect brown eyes. She walks right by me. She doesn’t want to me to see that she’s crying. Lillian skips by her towards the washroom. They’re bathed and told to get their PJs on. Kris effortlessly slaps a diaper on Lilly while she runs out the bathroom door. Pajama-adorned Sophia comes and sits on my lap. She tells me she’s sorry for not listening. My heart breaks, she’s so darn cute.

I just want to make it perfectly clear that I have no idea what I doing as a parent or otherwise. Am I damaging my children by yelling orders at them? I really don’t have a clue. I know what I expect from them, which is not much. I want them to be happy kids who laugh and play but I want them to know when it’s time to get the job done, too. Disciplining children is a sticky situation. Bringing the heat without the burn is a challenge.

Ed Sundukovsky is a butcher living in Toronto’s West End with his wife and two daughters. You can read more from Ed at his blog Big Sexy Dummy and on Twitter @bigsexydummy.

Photo by ijonas via Flickr

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