“They must be beat,” the small 60-something woman standing in front of me said. Horrified, I gasped, “Never!” We were standing outside the small Catholic Church in Bryson City, NC and she was one of many delightful people we’ve met the past couple of weeks that we’ve been here. She prefaced the above statement by gushing over the kids’ adorableness. “They are so beautiful,” she said. “I’ve just never seen such beautiful kids. Even mine weren’t as gorgeous.” I laughed out loud. “And they are so well-behaved. I told Bill, they must be beat.” “Never,” I shrieked. And that’s the truth. Our kids are not parented under the umbrella of fear. They are parented through love, empathy, compassion and discipline … the teaching kind.
This lady, whose name I have forgotten because I’m horrible with names and anything to do with memory, really, then said, “I don’t know how you do it, but you should write a book.” I smiled because I have written a book, but outside mass didn’t seem the right time to self-promote myself. She hugged me and went on her merry way. Of course, her kind words carried me through most of the day, but so did the assumption that corporal punishment was employed based on the behavior of our kids. I wondered if she would feel the same way if she encountered us at the park, or pool or any other outdoor activity where our kids are encouraged to let loose and go crazy? Would she think our kids were beautiful and well behaved? Would she assume they were “beat”? Or would she think they were wild Indians who had little to no parental guidance? I think the latter, simply based on the parents we’ve encountered both at home and on the road. However, there is a time and a place for everything!