I've mentioned many times before that my first born is a 'spirited' boy. He is a boundary pushing, rule breaking, loud talking energy ball.
It's taken me a long time to accept that he is who he is because thats how God made him. Not because he was born via c-section or because he stopped breastfeeding at 10 months or because he had symptoms of colic and cried as a baby.
It took the birth of his baby sister for me to truly understand temperament. Both of my children come from the same mould yet they couldn't be more different. One is placid, one is not.
Zeph is intelligent, determined, driven, sensitive and intuitive. He is caring and loving and knows how to share. He can be tender and gentle but he also has a tenancy to be ... ehum... cheeky. Especially when in public.
If Zeph feels socially out of his depth or just plain bored he will act out, there is nothing surer.
Naturally, it is my responsibility to guide and discipline him when outbursts and meltdowns occur. I do this in my own way and I do it best when I don't have the pressure of being in a public place.
Therein lies the problem of public parenting - pressure.
We've had a couple of 'incidents' in the last week or so where Zeph has been duly reprimanded by strangers for socially unacceptable behaviour. I'm pleased to report that since way back here, it happens with much less frequency, but must confess that it still happens from time to time.
On each occasion I have felt conflicted in choosing an appropriate response.
I want Zeph to respect adults and listen when he is spoken to - so on one hand I feel the need to publicly reiterate what is being said to him - both for his sake and for the sake of the other parent. On the other hand, I want him to know that i'll protect him and keep him safe and that it's not really okay for anyone to speak to him rudely.
In those situations I'm almost overcome with weakness and a desire to please the outsider, rather than following my instinct to nurture my child (while simultaneously crushing and destroying anything and anyone who dares to cross him).
Everyday, I need to choose my battles very carefully. I have a limited supply of energy (and patience) and I need to use it wisely.
Mostly, I'm trying to spend my emotional energy (pregnancy hormones ensure I have plenty) encouraging his good behaviour, engaging in his long winded stories and down playing his attention seeking moments.