Neglect of my locks created a big bushy beast that needed help. I was waaaaaaaaaay overdue for a haircut. Having yet to find a salon/stylist that I really like, I just located a nice sounding place online near our house. There were even a couple reviews written about other people’s positive experiences there. So, I booked it.
The salon was decent enough, although a bit dated. The word “tacky” entered my mind not a few times while getting the “tour”. OH yes, there was a tour. Before getting shampooed, my stylist insisted on showing me around–the nail section, the product lines, the massage rooms, the pedicure baths (“we wash and disinfect our tubs after every client!”), the “scent bar” where you can choose your massage oil scent…
My stylist (let’s call her “Lola”) was not overly chatty. This is good. I hate small talk with strangers. We determined I needed my hair to be short and easy to deal with because I am too busy with three small children at home. And *that* may have been my first mistake. Lola shares that she is also a mom of a three-year-old. Oh how I wish that is where this conversation ended.
Parenting is just not a good “small talk” subject for me. I have opinions on the matter. They do not seem to be the prevailing opinions of our culture. As a teacher, I was taught, and encouraged to believe that there are three ways to parent: Be Authoritarian. Be Permissive. Be Something InBetween. (they call it Authoritative, but doesn’t that sound just like Authoritarian?) My hero, Alfie Kohn refers to this as “goldilocks thinking”–it’s not too harsh, it’s not too soft, it’s juuuuust right. I find this paradigm to be completely and utterly useless. What I have found, in addition to Alfie’s fabulous book on the matter, is what is underwhelmingly referred to as Positive Parenting. It’s also been dubbed “gentle discipline”, “grace-based discipline”, “connection parenting”, “attachment parenting”, and my favorite “get-off-your-butt parenting”. In very simple terms, it goes like this: Children are people. Children deserve the same respect that other human beings enjoy. Positive Parenting is non-punitive. That’s right, no punishment. No time-out, no “naughty chair”, no “logical consequences”, and it shouldn’t even have to be said, but here it is just the same, no spanking.
Now I get that most people have a hard time believing that what you’ll get without punishment is not a whole lotta chaos and “untamed” children. There is definitely little in our culture that supports the idea of respecting children, and to get what that means took a lot of reading on my part and a journey that started back before children when I found Alfie’s articles for teachers. But, now that I’ve “seen the light”, I have a real difficult time with the ‘conventional’ parenting/discipline methods that surround us. I actively avoid all mainstream parenting magazines, websites, books. I can’t even sit through a commercial for “Super Nanny” or whatever it’s called.
I’m going to add in here my disclaimer, although it should just be a given, that I am not a perfect parent. There is just no such thing. I am human and on a never-ending journey–always learning and growing–just like everybody else. That being said, HITTING CHILDREN IS ALWAYS WRONG. I won’t say more about this as there is plenty of evidence of this Truth, not including the fact that hitting children is ILLEGAL in most other countries of the world.
So, back to the bad haircut. Lola does her thing. snip snip, comb, cut. She talks about the other stylist and her trip to Europe (“or Paris..one of those places”). Then, she pauses, and starts in with how she’s finally read this great book that everyone has recommended to her. I will not plug his book here, nor even mention his name (let’s call him Dr. D). Lola begins to tell me all of the great advice she’s gotten from Dr. D. How she used to spank and give her kid “pops”on his hiney, but Dr. D says when spanking you should never use your hand… I’m bug-eyed and panicked at this point. I don’t want to hear what the alternative is. She gives it to me anyway, and goes on to describe how all she has to do now is threaten her three-year-old with THE PADDLE. Eeeek! Get me out of this chair! My non-response (and desperate clutching) should be a clue to change the subject, right? But now Lola is looking at me expectantly. She’s asked me a question. “What do you do to make your kids listen?” OH MAN, can this get any more uncomfortable? So, I say the first thing I think of, “well, I don’t hit them.” “Really?” she says sincerely, “not even a little pop?” “What do you do then–time-out?” “Um, no. No time-out.” She’s stumped. “Well, what DO you do?” she asks (and really nicely, I should add.) “Well, I talk to them. And when they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing, I give them something else to do.” “Huh!” she says. Clearly the idea of redirection wasn’t in her current box of parenting tools. Lola goes on and on about how it’s really “worked” for her, and how her little one jumps when she tells him things now. Ugh.
During this exchange, Lola continues the haircut and aks me several times if this or that is okay, if I prefer things one way or the other. I haven’t heard a word of it. I smile and nod and say “sure” and “great”–whatever it takes to get her to finish so I can escape. I even end up with two bottles of product I don’t need in my lame attempts to get her to stop talking and let me out the door. And the best prize, of course, is my horrible new haircut. I hazily remember her using a phrase like “short, but still feminine here in the back”. It sounds eerily similar to “business in the front, party in the back” in my mind. Husband confirms it. I have a mullet. How’s that for injury with my insult?