That Friday morning was a quiet one. I was not working, Elan was shy of two years old at the time, and I had friends coming for dinner, so shopping and cooking were the goals of the day.
My life at that time was divided between finishing my hours towards licensure, seeing clients and leading a parenting class at the counseling center. And in between, I tried to be a really good parent, with the struggles and guilt associated with being a working mother. My feeling was that I was doing a good job at it, despite my limitations. Suffice it to say that leading the parenting class put me in a position of being more aware and focused on my choices as a parent. The respect and the appreciation of the parents did not hurt either.
All in all, the chores were carried out lazily with my very sweet son, who was at that time quite precocious, albeit “a good little boy” — mostly reasonable except for the times he would ask too many questions. At that period of time, we had a nanny who spoke Spanish to him, and he was fluent in three languages, English, Hebrew and Spanish.
The unexpected crisis occurred while we were shopping at a bakery, and despite the fact that I promised Elan two cookies only, he decided to start negotiating with me (a habit which evolved into an artful skill), and asked if he can have another cookie.
The parenting classes were not wasted on me, and I knew from teaching them, that if I succumbed to his request, life would never be the same. I knew that I had to “walk the walk”, and not just “talk the talk”. I knew that we would create a precedent! My refusal brought on the first temper tantrum that my son ever had, and he resorted to the customary demonstration of the classic temper tantrum. He proceeded to lie on the floor of the bakery, banging his little legs and demanding rather loudly “another cookie”. I imagine that most reasonable mothers would have shoved a cookie into the mouth of this boy who was embarrassing them to no end. But let’s not forget that I was a Parenting Class Leader, and the title had its own requirements and obligations.
As I was trying to speak gently and quietly to this flailing creature, the door of the bakery opened and who should enter but one of the mothers from my parenting class. To say that I wanted the ground to open and swallow me at that moment would be an understatement. Nevertheless, if I am anything, I am resourceful, and that was a critical moment which required some critical intervention. There was too much at stake. As the mother was approaching us, I bent down, and whispered softly to Elan in Hebrew, “If you don’t get up this instant, I’m going to spank you.” Elan, who had never been spanked in his life, looked at me like the monster that I was, fear in his eyes, and stood up immediately.
The parent came up to me, gave me a hug, and said admiringly:”I cannot believe how quickly you managed your son’s tantrum.” We left the bakery, got into the car, and the first thing I did, was to give him another cookie.