We’re not going to the zoo

If there was an award given to The Meanest Parent on Planet Earth, I would probably get it.

Last week, Vera was due to visit the zoo with her friends at school. However, she had been disobedient the day before, kicking up a fuss when my godmother picked her up from school. She refused to leave the school and insisted that my mother go and pick her up instead. And it didn’t stop at that. After lunch, she refused to nap at her usual time and was still awake 2 hours later. She only went down after a few spanks on the bum. Come dinner-time, she refused to eat when asked. She had her dinner late as a result, and it was only when daddy came home and asked her to eat!

She was downright uncooperative and difficult the entire day.

Because it wasn’t an isolated case, and she had given my godmother a headache a few times throughout the past two weeks, we decided that this warranted a serious punishment.

And so we took the zoo trip away from her.

That morning, when we told her and explained that because of her defiant behaviour, she would not be allowed to go to the zoo, she wailed like someone had stolen her favourite biscuits AND chocolate cake. Her face was all red and scrunched and I could feel a teeny bit of my resolve starting to shake.

Were we being too harsh?

Was her behaviour caused by something else that we are not aware of?

We reassured her of our love and were generous with our hugs. I told her plainly that it was her disobedience that led to us taking away her zoo trip. She understood, but she was inconsolable. She kept repeating “I want to go”, punctuated only by breathless sobs.

I thought daddy was going to buckle too but he stood firm.

I’m sorry, Vera. You’re not going to the zoo today.

You will learn and hopefully remember the concept of consequences.

Every bad behaviour begets a negative consequence, and since caning is no longer deemed the most ideal nor the first point of call (mainly because of your temperament and also because mummy is trying a different approach), you will learn through the hard way – by having something you desire taken away from you.

We love you. That’s the honest-to-goodness truth. It’s precisely because of this love that you have to bear with the consequence now. (Not in spite of.)

At some point, I wanted to back down and show you grace instead. But I realise that if you don’t learn this today, this scene will likely repeat in the near future, so I will only be prolonging the pain.

For all of us.


It’s funny. Even though we felt convicted that we did the best thing, I still feel a tad guilty from time to time. Even now.

Well, that day passed without much further drama. She was well-behaved over the rest of the week. It’s too early to tell if this would have a lasting effect, and I’m still thinking through what could be the possible factors leading to her misbehaviour. (I will have to save that for another post.)

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  1. says

    Hi June,
    It’s indeed a little harsh, but I guess your intention is good and most importantly, Vera learnt her lesson and behaved well throughout the weel, that should be fine. Maybe you can bring her to the zoo again – if she continues to behave well… as a reward so that she won’t be so disappointed..

    I haven’t try this myself, but spanking does work for me. My son is worried whenever he makes me angry. When I really need to spank him, this means I’m really MAD….
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  2. says

    Mean Mummy! hahaha nope, just kidding! Seriously, I applaud you guys for going through with the “punishment”, I think I would have buckled and let Isaac go if he pleaded with me. We often use the “If you don’t behave, then you stay at home, the rest of us go to the zoo/park/swimming pool etc” But I am quite conscious about saying this now, because I don’t want it to be an empty threat if I am not going to carry it out. So, kudos to you and ya hubbs for standing your ground. Vera will thank you for it one day… when she has a 3 year old of her own 😉

  3. says

    Sometimes we need to practice what psychologists call ‘Tough Love’…it’s tough on us to instill the punishments and disclinary measures (as a means of teaching them the lifelong lessons that our behaviours and actions carry consequences) but if it’s done out of love, it’s goes towards building of character and values. Like you, I sometimes feel I am the Meanest Mummy on earth and Motherhood brings out both the best and worst in me. I usually kneel before God, ask Him to sanctify my lips, annoint my mouth, make wise my actions and help me build the family in love…
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    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Thanks Angie. Parenting is tough work and sometimes I think I will really lose it if not for grace and wisdom from above. Amidst all this, I’m actually still thankful because I know that Vera has grown quite a bit in her maturity and thinking. She will give in to reasoning now, much more than before. I’m still trying to get to the heart of this though and I suspect that it’s partly to do with the rivalry she feels from Javier hanging around me and my mum most of the time. That’s a good prayer to pray…I will try praying that too.

  4. Eileen says

    i can totally relate to this post. I did it before!! The child disappointed expression and whining did not change my mind, but it did make me feel guilty.

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Thanks for sharing, Eileen. Yeah it’s tough dealing with the guilt that comes after that. No matter what there is this niggling self-doubt about whether we made the right call or not. Helps to know that we’re not alone…

  5. says

    Yes, I think you are very harsh! But then, that’s just me, because our parenting style is different, please bear that in mind. There is no right or wrong. Each parent needs to know her child and decide what works well for her child.

    For this particular case, I think it’s harsh because that is something you have promised her, something that she was so looking forward to. When we promise our kids something, we do not break our promise and we don’t “justify” why a promise can be broken. We won’t choose to punish her this way to make her remember whatever lesson she needs to learn. It can be done positively.

    Hope you would find out (or never) what’s in her that made her misbehave in the past two weeks. And hope my honesty doesn’t offense you 🙂
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    • mamawearpapashirt says

      I don’t find your feedback offensive at all, and I really appreciate your honesty! I so agree with trying to do most things from a positive perspective, using positive reinforcement etc for good behaviour. This was actually a school trip so I’m not sure if it’s a promise from us to her in that sense but irregardless, it was a painful experience for her to lose that privilege. I hope we don’t have to resort to this again…

  6. says

    I wouldn’t say that it’s harsh as we’ve done it ourselves. Withholding a reward when she doesn’t behave as expected. Of course it has also met with resistance and tears. I can’t recall the incident but I even told her, too bad, you’re going to have to deal with disappointments later in life as well. Pretty harsh words for a three-year-old to hear. But kids are smart too and they know which buttons to push.
    It’s good that you and Vic stood firm on your decision. Anyway, when I read this, I was thinking that we could go on a playdate after Vera earns it from you again.
    Susan recently posted..Global Handwashing Day: Help a Child Reach 5My Profile

  7. says

    I think it’s excellent that both mum and dad stood together on this. It’s tough when parents don’t agree and then the child knows that he’s found a loophole. For us, we make our intentions known before. So if there is a special treat coming up, like going to a special playground, we’ll say “You have to nap, because if you don’t, then you know you’ll be in a cranky mood and nobody will enjoy playground time. So no nap, no playground ok?”. In the beginning she cried and insisted to go even if she didn’t nap, but now she can tell us “Ok I won’t nap, so let’s go to the playground another day. I”ll stay home and play today”. Then she promises to nap the next day, but that’s another story 🙂
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  8. says

    June, I feel you here, big hugs! I’ve also taken away priviledges & spanked, & have felt the guilt too. Just wondering, did Vera know who was picking her up that day in advance? Because in our case, we’ve discovered that J has a certain “fixed-ness” and he acts up when there are changes in routines, its like his brain cannot adapt to the change & thus start to rebel. Its just little things, like doing things in a different order. Once he gets derailed he escalates into all sorts of bad behaviour. But if course it doesn’t excuse the bad behaviour. I’ve found giving him notice about things help si that he has time to deal with the change. Not sure if that might be the same for Vera? Whatever the case, I think its goid that you and hubby are consistent in terms of meting consequences for bad behaviour. Hang in there!
    Jus recently posted..Global Handwashing Day: Let’s reach for 5!My Profile

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Yes she knew. In fact, it’s standard practice so yeah…we also give her advance notice about most things, especially if there is a change in schedules. Agree that it helps a lot in terms of helping them to ease into the next activity. Thanks Jus!

  9. says

    Hugs.. don’t worry. You’re not harsh at all. I mean, kids have to learn that there are consequences to bad behaviour, otherwise they will get out of control! It’s good that both mummy and daddy stood firm together. A single message, and the kids know not to take advantage. Though when it comes to grandparents, that’s another story. 🙂
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  10. says

    She looks so adorable with the POUT!!!!
    I agree with everyone here the you ain’t too meant.
    Children needs to learn that their actions has consequences….
    And 2 thumbs up to you and hubby for standing firm.

  11. says


    I am a sucker when it comes to the boy. I think in a lot of ways, all of us are… perhaps Mums can be more ‘soft’ in a lot of cases.

    I leave the disciplining issues to Daddy, but that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t break with every drop of tear. I do, realise, however, that sometimes we need to be tough in order to make a point – and in this case, Vera has been repeatedly asked to co-operate, but with kids being the way they are, they do push their limits, as though to test us.

    We’re very big into carrying out promises, BUT we’re also into carrying out warnings if they go unheeded. I think it’s important for them to realise that as much as we carry out our ‘happy’ promises, we will also not hesitate to carry out what we ‘promised’ to do if they choose to disobey or make things difficult.

    Part and parcel of parenting. Sometimes a measure of tough love is necessary, if only to illustrate a point to the growing personality. At the end of the day, we all know our child best – and I’m sure that the bottomline is to educate them in whatever way that works. Never the issue of whether an action is too harsh or otherwise 🙂
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    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Thanks for the affirming words, Elaine. Yes, I agree it’s always easy and tempting to settle it quickly via spanking, and I also struggle with it at times, because when the anger sets in, it’s harder to resist taking that route.

      But this time, because we spoke to her at the end of the day and had some time to think through how to deal with it, we were in control of our emotions, which I was really thankful for.

  12. says

    alamak, like that is being mean already? No lah, not harsh at all! To me its relatively mild. 😀 I believe for every poor behaviour comes a bad consequence- kids need to learn that. Taking privileges away to me is the mildest form of punishment. But yah, its quite heart wrenching to see their dissapointed faces. Many a times i feel like caving in. Sometimes i would reinstate that privilege for good behaviour- related or unrelated to the poor behaviour he made earlier.

    • mamawearpapashirt says

      Hehe, wow I guess when it comes to discipline, there’s really a wide spectrum. It’s good to know that you think it’s quite mild, and that you don’t have a problem with reinstating that privilege. Makes me wonder when I can plan a zoo trip with her again…hopefully soon!

  13. says

    I feel soo much better now :p
    Have done similar things before and the exact same thoughts and guilt would wrench my heart and I wonder too if I am the meanest Mummy in the entire world 🙂

    I just took away TV Sunday from my Vera for not practising her violin although I gave very specific instructions for her to do so.

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