I question my abilities as a parent on a daily basis. I have some successes, but those feel few and far between. I know I fail. A lot.

My biggest problem area — other than my thighs and love handles — would be in the discipline department. I’m just not good at it. You remember how those parents on all those sitcoms would tell all those kids, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” It’s true! It’s not fun to punish Emma Kelly! I feel horribly guilty that a stern look or a firm “no” didn’t do the trick and I’ve had to resort to a punishment that elicits screams and squeals and tears — some fake and some real. And more often than not, my threat of a punishment is made in the middle of a mall with the promise that it will happen the second we walk in the door back home. It never does. By then, the drama has passed. She’s acting like a perfect angel. And I don’t want to stir up trouble again so I — more often than not — let it go. See?? I’m HORRIBLE at this!

But yesterday, I heard something that made me feel just the tiniest bit better. I even had to stop in the middle of the Gap to tweet it so I wouldn’t forget.

A mom with a toddler on her hip and an older child by her side were standing on the sidewalk and mama was fussing, “You don’t run out in the parking lot like that! You could’ve been killed!”

I understood perfectly. Been there, done that. But then she followed up her lecture with the following punishment:

“We are still going to get ice cream but you can’t pick any flavor you want.”

Whoa. I was tempted to call CPS, but decided to mind my own business.