I remember this kid who was behaving like a total brat during one CNY, at my aunt's place and his mom did absolutely nothing to thwart his misbehaviour. He was terrorizing the dog, shouting like some mad dude, pushing people around; he was too much for me to go on watching. I grabbed him by the arms and dragged him to the storeroom, threw him inside and locked him up. He screamed for his dear life while I left him inside and walked away. Later, his mom went to free him; when he was out, he stared at me with those pair of scornful eyes. I swear, he was planning to have me assassinated when he grows up.
Fast forward to 2007, when I realised I was pregnant and decided to have my baby, it came as a rude shock to many people who couldn't believe that I, the all time kids-hater, am going to have my own. I didn't know what came onto me but I was determined to have this child and raise him/her, no matter how trying it might seemed (I wasn't married then).
As I did not like children, hence I know nuts about them. In retrospect, it actually works towards my advantage. Because instead of harboring unrealistic expectation or anticipating a perfect baby, I had prepared myself for the worst! Then along came Laetitia who was, to very much of my relief, an OK baby. Erm... alright, maybe a little too spirited for some.
As a new mother then, I found myself being fed, by the people around me, with many information, tips and instructions to care for my new baby. Some of those were incredibly helpful, however many were simply outrageous and very out-dated. I decided I would be a mother of my own style and not rely too much on others and their experiences. I set out to read as many books about baby and parenthood as I possibly can; soon I was able to be passed off as a pro.
All had been well, then Laetitia turned one; the wonderful baby I once had disappeared, it was as though she had been taken away from me and replaced by this monstrous little imp. That was my initial contact with toddler-hood. I fumbled. I felt so defeated. Again, I turned to reading. One of the most useful book I read then was "The Secret Lives of Toddler" by Jana Murphy. It was a total paradigm shift for me. Seeing things from the perspectives of these little creatures, helped me to understand that kids are not born to raise hell, they were just oftenly misunderstood.
Next, to tackle Laetitia's tantrums, I found another useful book, "Positive Discipline. The first three years" by Dr. Jane Nelsen and 2 other authors. It was after reading the book, I was convinced that beating would not be my style of disciplinary.
Laetitia still would have fire-spitting tantrums from time to time, but I had learnt to accept her for who she is and I have no problem handling any of her meltdowns nowadays. In fact, it might sounds insane, but sometimes I am actually look forward to taming those conniption fits. I realized it was a good platform to teach her as well as myself about emotions and practice how to control them.
Remember that boy whom I locked up the storeroom? It was much later that I learnt that his parents had spoiled him rotten because he was a burn victim. He had a pot of boiling soup spilled onto his body when he was a curious toddler who was in the kitchen at the very wrong time. The burns had him disfigured from chest down to his thighs. I felt sorry for him but at the same time, I can't help but wondered if his parents were doing the right thing by giving in to him without a limit. Would I have done the same if he was my child?
Then an incident, close enough, came for me to found out; Laetitia broke her arm when she was a month short of her two years old birthday. She was such a pitiful sight; it broke my heart. But when it comes to discipline, whether it was two good arms or one broken, it was the same. There was no exceptions, no rules bend. It true that I was nicer to her when she was behaving well but when she flared up, she was to be deal with, all the same. She didn't love me lesser because of this. The books had been right, kids actually need discipline to thrive and feel secure.
From hating children to enjoying my role as a mother of two, I think I have come a long way. My parenthood journey will continue. Meanwhile I am taking my time to enjoy watching them grow up. And, no, I am certainly not looking forward to those preadolescence years when my kids would be surrounded by sex, puberty and peer pressure. But when the time comes, I know would be ready to take on any of the challenges.