I've decided that the way to judge the quality of a parent is by evaluating how they handle a good, old-fashioned temper tantrum.
This came up at the best place you can go if you're seeking advice, the latest gossip or just a good adult conversation - the hair salon.
And let me tell you, there were stories to tell.
One woman said she couldn't stand watching as four adults offered a screaming toddler bribes of toys and ice cream to quiet him. She was equally shocked when she heard a teen-aged boy turn angry, belligerent and disrespectful because the tires his parents were buying him weren't the super-expensive ones he wanted.
On the flip side, she's been the object of derision because of the nonchalant way she's handled her own children's tantrums, telling them that they needed to yell a lot louder or kick a little bit harder.
"I mean, come on, if you're going to do it, do it right."
Her lack of a response has meant that was the last tantrum of that kind that she had to endure.
My children are past the tantrum-throwing stage and have now entered quiet manipulation, which includes pouting, huffiness and quiet comments aimed at the heart.
I've found that the methods may have changed, but the best response has not: Buy it or ignore it.
Neither I nor my children enjoy grocery shopping. They don't because I'm there. I don't because they're there. Basically, we disagree from the bananas and don't stop till we hit the bread.
My standards for healthy eating aren't stellar, but they're miles above what my children consider healthy eating.
Pastry filled with chocolate and marshmallows, frosted with chocolate and sprinkles is NOT a breakfast item no matter what aisle it's in. And, basically every cereal that has fun and attractive packaging is NOT chock full of vitamins.
Grocery store merchandisers aren't dummies. It's no coincidence that cereals like Caramelchocomallow Crunch are directly in a child's line of sight, whereas Superfiberironhealthicon is barely within even my reach.
So, basically, every trip to the supermarket is one long "no."
It's frustrating for all of us.
On one trip, 7-year-old Katie had her fill of hearing "no."
She decided that I was the worst mom ever.
Then, she decided to say it.
Buy it or ignore it.
And you certainly can't ignore that comment. So, I told her she was right, I was a horrible mother and that she should start looking for another mother right away.
Then, I walked up to the very next woman I saw and asked if she'd take my kids and be a nicer mother than I was.
My girls were in shock and were horrified.
That I would rather give them away than mend my evil ways forced them to evaluate their beliefs.
Turns out, they love me.
Turns out, I'm the best mom in the world.
Turns out, not caving makes me a better parent and them more apt to consider the consequences of their actions.
I'm not saying that I haven't (or never will again) offer ice cream in exchange for good manners when we go to a restaurant.
But when push comes to shove in this ongoing attempt to test boundaries, I will plant my feet firmly. No one will be happy, but we'll all be a little better off.