On Pinching and Parenting…

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.

Splat.

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.

Poke.

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.

Sigh.

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.

Happy Friday!

Thanks for stopping by!

Also, if you happen to work for CPS, I am totally kidding about pinching my kid. As if!

xo

I’m Not a Co-Sleeper, But I Co-Sleep.

Before I had Luca, I was adamant about many things.

Like, he wasn’t going to watch too much television.

Now, at almost four years old, he can pretty much belt out every cartoon theme song that’s ever be written.

He wouldn’t be big juice drinker, because of the sugar factor. Selfishly, this was more for my benefit than his, because HAVE YOU SEEN A KID CRACKED OUT ON FRUIT PUNCH?

This bit me in the ass hard, after discovering he was allergic to the milk I’d been poisoning him with for two years.

I would not spoil him with material things.

He has approximately 4,034 dinosaurs.

And the big one, I WILL NOT BE A CO-SLEEPER! Nothing against people who are, it just wasn’t for me. My bed was my bed and his was his.

End of story.

Until it wasn’t.

He now crawls into my bed every. single. night. around one in the morning, sometimes earlier.

It hasn’t always been this way. He used to fall asleep on his own each night, and wake up in his own bed each morning.

I can’t recall exactly when it happened, maybe sometime towards the end of my pregnancy with Leo, or when we switched him to a big boy bed in another room, or possibly when he became aware of things that go bump in the night.

Whatever the catalyst was, it caused me to begin lying next to his bed each night, until he was out cold.

This backfired on me rather quickly. He grew accustomed to having me by his little side when trying to fall back asleep. So, when he’d wake up throughout the night and I was gone, he couldn’t go back to sleep without me.

I became his security blanket…his pacifier.

Fine, as long as he was still sleeping in his own room, I could deal.

Then one day he got sick with something minor, probably a cold, so I brought him into my bed to snuggle.

And again the next night.

And the next.

Everyone had an opinion on it, as everyone usually does.

Ohhhh, bad move. You’re never going to get him out of your bed now. Tough love. Let him cry. It will only take a few nights.

Everyone’s balls are so much bigger from the sidelines, aren’t they?

But, it wasn’t like he was being a spoiled child or taking advantage of my weak nature. My Luca is so very sensitive. To everything. And, for this, I am so very grateful. Because, I want him to be sensitive. But, as little as he is, it can be really tough to process, and feel, all those emotions.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total pushover. If he’s throwing a fit because I won’t buy him a toy, I have no problem letting him throw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming.

I don’t indulge that sort of behavior with him.

Most days, anyhow.

But, this? This is different.

The kid is terrified of the dark. How can I possibly take a tough love approach?

I’m especially sensitive to this because I was TERRIFIED of the dark as a child. For years, I’d lie awake at night in tears, my tiny body buried under my covers, because everyone knows they make you invisible. I’ll always remember the sweet relief that came with crawling into my mom’s bed.

For the past year, I’ve tried to get him to stay in his bed. There have been many late night shouting and crying matches, leaving us both frustrated and drained.

Then one day a thought occurred to me. I pictured myself a decade from now, looking back on this period in our lives, wondering what I would tell myself.

And I have no doubt what it would be.

Why was I ever so fucking hard on my baby because he wanted to sleep with his mommy?

The regret would be excruciating for me.

And the silly thing is, I was being so hard on him because of all the well-intentioned shouts from the sidelines. Because of what other people were telling me was right and wrong.

But, you know what I’ve decided?

Fuck other people.

I know they mean well, but this is my baby and my life…AND MY BABY!

Someone recently approached it from a different angle, asking me, “Well, how is this affecting your quality of life?”

And you know what?

It’s making my life better.

I love scooping him, his blankie, and ten dinosaur friends into my arms when he’s scared and crying in his dark room. The relief on his face is a relief I know all too well.  When he falls onto my bed and snuggles up next to me, all the worry is gone from him.

And, I love waking up next to him, with his crazy, beautiful bed-head.

Isn’t all this my job as his mother?

Sure, there are nights when I’m frustrated, with a foot in my eye and a dinosaur up my ass, but it is what it is.

He needs me.

And really, I need him just as much.

As a parent, there are so many battles we have to fight. So, I’ve decided that this will no longer be one of them.

Because, if he doesn’t feel safe in his own house, where can he feel safe?

Besides, the day will come when he won’t want to sleep with me. I’ll eventually be replaced by some skanky high-schooler with piercings in odd places.

Bitch.

So, for now, I’ll continue letting him crawl into my bed each and every night, until he decides he doesn’t need me by his side to face the night anymore.

But, there’s one thing I want to be really clear about….

I am not a co-sleeper.