I’ve always fancied myself a non-spanking kind of girl.
When it comes to parenting, that is. Wink.
Before I had kids, I was adamant I’d never use spanking as a form of discipline.
My dad went that route when I was little girl, and though I’m sure he meant well and it was all he knew, it’s impossible to erase those images…those feelings.
I want to do better.
Yes, I want my kids to respect me, but I don’t want them to fear me.
But, I’ll admit it, I have spanked Luca before, when I was pregnant with Leo.
We were walking out of a restaurant and, without a moment’s notice, he let go of my hand and began running….towards the street.
I yelled at him to stop.
And then I yelled again louder…more frantically.
But, Luca Gump didn’t listen, he kept right on running into a super busy intersection. Thankfully, it was an early Sunday morning, so most people were either in church or at home.
(My church is tacos and mimosas. PREACH!)
Anyway, I ran after him, as best a pregnant lady can run, and when I finally reached him he was standing smack dab in the middle of the street.
And then it happened.
HE LAUGHED AT ME.
So, without even thinking about it, I gave him a swift swat on the bottom.
You know the kind?
You see other mom’s do it to their kids in the checkout line at the grocery store. And you shake your head disapprovingly, your heart breaking for that poor, poor child.
You are aghast, thinking to yourself that some people shouldn’t be allowed to have kids.
This is especially true before you have kids of your own.
Because, before I had kids of my own, I was certain that would never be me. Nope, I would never be a spanker, or a swatter, or a whatever-er.
Then my kid turned three.
And he, with his sweet, innocent, nutella-stained face, climbed right up on my high horse along side me….and violently threw me off, into the muddy reality of parenting.
So, while I still place myself firmly in the no-spanking camp, I do lose my shit from time to time, and do things I regret after I’ve found it.
Take yesterday for example…
I was grocery shopping with both boys. They were sitting side by side in one those SUV-sized car-style shopping carts. The ones that are impossible to navigate, especially through the narrow and fragile aisles of wine.
Luca was full of nervous energy, and was having a really hard time staying still. Try as he might, he just couldn’t keep his sticky little hands to himself.
He was poking his baby brother, laying on him, pushing him, and putting his big-baby-head in a headlock.
Luca, please stop, honey.
Luca, if you want to go to soccer today you’d better leave him alone.
Push. Poke. Hit.
LUCA, CAN YOU NOT HEAR ME? LEAVE HIM ALONE NOW, OR I’M TAKING AWAY ALL YOUR DINOSAURS WHEN WE GET HOME.
Ahh, the life of a parent is pretty much identical to that of a mob boss. Threats and bribery all day long.
Then the shit hit the fan.
I was staring at the four million choices of bread, my back turned to the boys, trying to pick a super healthy one on which to spread a gallon of Nutella.
I heard Leo scream, and turned around just in time to see Luca taking a bite out of his shoulder. As I was about to go all lunatic-mom on his ass, he then proceeded to spit in his baby brother’s face. Then, just to make sure he’d inflicted an adequate amount of pain on the 23-pound human he has to share his mommy with, he pinched the shit out of him.
So, calm, cool, and collective me? She who does not spank and only uses her words?
Reached over and…..pinched Luca on the fat of his arm.
Hard enough to get his attention, but not hard enough to leave a mark…obviously.
“Owwwwww, Mommy, you pinched me!”
Well, now you know how it feels when you bully your brother.
“You are a terrible mommy!!” he shouted.
What? Say it louder, not enough people heard you!
“YOU ARE A TERRIBLE MOMMY! TERRIBLE MOMMY!”
Louder, Luca, that woman over there that’s taking four years to pick her avocados, didn’t hear you. Come on! You can do better! Louder!
Exasperated that his tactic wasn’t working, he sighed deeply.
And then came the lip quiver, followed by the tears. OH, THE TEARS!
“You made me cry!” he managed to get out, in between his dramatic sobs.
No! You made yourself cry. It is unacceptable to ever lay your hands on someone else, Luca! How many times have we been through this?
Then, the thought hit me like a ton of unripe avocados.
Isn’t that what I had just done to him? Indeed it was. Because, pinching your four year old totally qualifies as laying your hands on someone else…even if he did used to live in your uterus.
And then the regret washed over me.
When I’m rational, and in an unemotional moment, I’ll say that if you lay a hand on your child, because they have laid their hands on someone, you are a god damn hypocrite.
Bully meet Bully.
But, during those moments when I’m at a complete loss as to how to handle my kids, I have gone there.
No, I’ve never done anything terrible. I’ve certainly never pulled a come over here and bend over and I’ll give you something to cry about. But, is the quick pinch or swat on the bottom really any better?
Parenting is such a tough balancing act. I feel like I’m always walking a fine between being gentle and loving, yet still being firm enough to ensure they become compassionate, responsible, non-serial killer adults.
So, while I’m not proud of pinching my child in the middle of the produce department, I do cut myself some slack. Because, I am human, and I’m still learning everyday how to be a better parent.
Besides, I’m the first to apologize to my kid when I’ve screwed up. I think it’s crucial that our kids see that their parents mess up, too, and that no one is perfect.
Later that night Luca said to me, “Mommy, I just don’t know how to control myself sometimes!”
You know what, buddy, I don’t know how to control myself either, sometimes. But, you and I? We are good people, kiddo. And even good people make poor choices. Everyone does, and it’s totally fine, as long as we try our best to learn from them. You’re my first time being a mommy and I’m still figuring stuff out. Just like you are figuring out how to be a person in this big, confusing world. So, how about we both try to control our tempers, and use our words from now on? Deal?
Barely able to keep his eyes open any longer, he gave me a sleepy smile and mumbled, “Deal, mommy.”
I’m curious to see who breaks their end of it first.
Thanks for stopping by!
Also, if you happen to work for CPS, I am totally kidding about pinching my kid. As if!