Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mummy Will Smack

We both knew, instantly, that I had crossed the line.

Her eyes wide with shock, Pie clutched her arm and backed out of the room, yelling through her tears, "I hurt my arm! Mama hit me!"

I suppressed nervous giggles as I heard her father backing me up. "Were you doing what you were told?" he asked sternly. In response, Pie stomped away, pulling her knees to her chest as she crouched in a corner of her bedroom, back to the wall. When I attempted to follow she held her hand up in the signal for "stop." "Don't look at me," she barked. "You stay away from me."

I shifted uneasily from one emotion to another. Laughter, tinged with hysteria, at her tragically stern expression. Hot bursts of shame. Simple surprise at how quickly anger can travel along my arm and through my hand. Admiration for the Pie's sure sense of self, her blazing certainty that what I had done was wrong.

In the end, it was me she turned to, as she has turned to me insistently, demandingly, throughout this difficult week. Sending her innocent father from the room, she fell into my arms, sobbing, her need for me trumping her righteous indignation. "I'm sorry I hit you," I murmured into her downy curls. "Do you forgive me?"

She gave the slightest of nods, burying her head still further into my shoulder. I thought about how her forgiveness preceded mine, how my stubborn heart refuses to apologize - even to a two-year-old - until the other side has caved. Words hovered on my lips as I tried to figure out how to address her behaviour without holding her responsible for my anger. Finally I decided on a simple question. "When I tell you to do something, Pie, do you think you can do what I say?"

Pie thought this over carefully. "No."

I tried again. "When I say, 'Stop that!' should you keep doing it, or should you stop?"

No response.

"Pie, you're a little girl, and you need to do what you're told. Now, when I tell you to do something, will you obey?"

More quickly, now, her firm decision. "No."

We cuddled on the bed for a bit, until Pie found a Ricola lozenge on my bedside table. "Is this yours?" she asked.

I nodded. "Why don't we practice," I suggested. "I'll tell you to put it back on the table, and you'll obey."

Eyes atwinkle, Pie complied. "Right here?" she asked, replacing the candy where she had found it, her obedience a free gift, offered just this once to make me feel better.

53 comments:

Grilled Pizza said...

Love reading your blog, your children sound both a handful and adorable all rolled into one :0)
GP xx

Karen said...

Ah, the power of one little word, "no"...

minnesotamom said...

Oh, Lord, does Anja have to learn to talk? (Not that I want her to be mute, but I just don't know if I'm ready for this...)

Blog Antagonist said...

Temper losing seems to be theme today. I'm glad kids are so forgiving. Unfortunately, that becomes less true as they get older. I'm taking advantage of it while I can.

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one with one of those children.

Yea. Maybe it's the weather?

Gwen said...

My more emotional, angrier daughter always crumples quickly, while the older, more placid one, holds on to it longer and is less likely to run in instantly for a hug. Unfortunately, I'm more like the older one.

slouching mom said...

we've all done it.

you described the aftermath so well.

xxoo

Amy said...

Oh you'll be having fun with her in years to come! I have my own like that. She's nearly 19 and I haven't killed her (yet)!

She sounds adorable.

Beck said...

Ug. Been there.
It's so shocking, isn't it, this sudden flare of rage? And then it's gone so fast, just leaving this rueful wishing it undone. :(

Jenifer said...

I have been in that place before too and while it is not one of my shining moments as a parent it certainly is a genuine moment.

I have become quite hooked on Jon & Kate + 8 and I am amazed at how unfazed Kate is despite being pretty anal like myself. She really doesn't seem to take things personally.

You said sorry and today is another day.

the dragonfly said...

Stubborn little one, isn't she??

Mouse said...

Scooter has only recently discovered that he can willfully behave opposite to our desires. So now he laughs as he keeps pushing on, regardless of what we say.

I'm so glad he didn't figure this out at the age of 2.

Swistle said...

She is a little SWEETIE-CAKE.

Cyndi said...

Wow, that made me cry almost. Then I laughed when she said no. At least she is honest!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I have two like that -- unflinchingly honest. Sometimes I wish they'd just humor me and say 'yes, mom.'

Karen said...

Oh, I know. I've been there - my oldest was verbally precocious. My mother used to warn me "just because he can say it doesn't mean he has the emotional maturity to understand what he means or back it up." I used to mutter under my breath - "just cause he can say it, doesn't mean he gets it, just cause he can say it, doesn't mean he gets." Of course, he did "get it" in his way - it was hard to filter it all out and not go completely crazy.

Mad Hatter said...

Comment got too long and became a post instead.

Julie Pippert said...

That's it all right, all the way around.

wheelsonthebus said...

It is such a hard, hard place to go. I am sorry you had such a rough day and am grateful for your honesty.

Janet said...

I'm also grateful for your honesty.

In the depths of a frustrating battle of the wills, I yelled at my two-year-old yesterday. I haven't really raised my voice to her much and she was so heartbroken, wanting to turn to me for the comfort she is accustomed to, but hesitating when she realized I was the one who caued her to be sad. It kind of broke my heart, too.

Christine said...

i've SO been there.

i think almost all of us have.

Luisa Perkins said...

Ohh, those bittersweet moments....

Niksmom said...

Bittersweet, indeed. But, in the end you will be glad you have a duaghter with such a strong spirit; it will serve her well when she's older. Must be something in the air this week, too...Saturday was ugly around here.

Patois said...

The one time I hit my eldest, he was about Pie's age, squirming and kicking as I changed his diaper (which seemed quite large compared to his newborn sister's). I slapped his thigh. Tears came to his eyes. I never hit him again, such was my sorrow and shock.

However...when demon spawn came along, dang, it took all I had to not constantly smack the top of his head. Defiant, willfull, always in charge.

kgirl said...

The title of your post makes me love you even though you hit your kids ;)

Kathryn said...

It is one of those days here too. I've been sitting on my hands all morning to keep them in check.
I never knew I had such a temper until I had children.

kittenpie said...

I once struck back quickly, instinctively, when pumpkinpie hit me. She burst into tears, running to her father, and I follwed, horrified, yet not completely ashamed because I had, in fact, been struck. First. He was questioning whether I could have done, that, unbelieving, when I entered the rooma nd said that I had, it wasn't right, I was sorry, but that she wasn't right to hit either. Being both wrong somehow made it easier, and we made up. But yes, I was stunned that I had struck her. And I think her shock was perhaps instructive for a month or two.

Vintage Dutch Girl said...

Just found your blog... thank you for being so open about real parenting. That kind of frustration is hard to deal with and my 14 month old is starting to really test boundaries. I understand...

Sarcasta-Mom said...

We all have those moments- thank you for being brave enough to share yours. Just know that the patience and love that you show everyday can't be oblitherated by one moment.....

letter9 said...

I've just started working on the concept of NO with Evan, with the insanely naive hope that he'll learn it young and always, always understand.

: )

Amanda said...

Oh the sting, the ache of this journey. From behind the lump in my throat squeaks a, "S'ok, mama."

KAL said...

Sometimes your writing just makes me jealous :) How well you captured this moment and these complex feelings -- feelings I've had far too often since becoming a mom. And that Pie - wow. I love her.

Angela said...

It sure isn't easy being a parent

Sue said...

Thanks for being real. Seriously. THANKS.

flutter said...

Oh boy, she is a sassy one

Christina said...

Such a battle of wills sometimes, isn't it? That discussion happens between Cordy and I on a nearly daily basis. And she still says "no" when I ask her to do what I say.

This is surely our moms getting revenge on us, isn't it? Stubborn breeds stubborn.

ewe are here said...

My Ramekin has been known to feel my hand on his bottom on occasion... usually after being particularly rotten to his little brother.

Miss Perfect said...

I did that once. My son hit me in the face with a toy and it was an automatic reaction. I felt horrible, and it hasn't happened since.
We're going through the (almost)4 year old version of that rebellion right now. It's brutal.
I try to reason and explain, but then so does he.
If nothing else, I'm learning patience. And, at work when people ask me how I can be patient I explain that my child is teaching me.

bgirl said...

still here...reading away...
as always i admire your honesty and appreciate your stories of life, loving and these amazing little beings in our lives.

PS - love LOVE how strong she is! way to go Pie....girls kick ass!

Terri said...

I've been here before, more than once unfortunately. I've had to apologize, too, of course. I think this teaches kids a valuable lesson when mom or dad apologizes for a wrong. I grew up with a mother who NEVER apologized for anything. I want to be different.

Sounds like the Pie is quite clever. She must keep you on your toes.

Marla said...

Must be something in the air?

We've had the most contentious morning ever - with someone receiving a swat on her bottom to let her know that while I was okay with her anger at me, her screaming, tearstained, snotty snorting hiccuping and horrible anger (for firmly requesting that she make pee) (because I knew she had to, which was part of her behaviour problem to that point) (which was done by putting her in the bathroom, and sitting on the stool by the door and not letting her do anything else until she peed) - I was not okay when the anger turned to flailing at me and spitting on me in a hork worthy of a professional baseball player. She got a warning, and when she did it AGAIN...

You see, I thought about how as I kid, there wouldn't have been the reasonable request, the gentle guiding up the stairs, the moderated tones, the response to the tantrum with minimal emotion saying "I know you don't want to. You're frustrated. But you'll feel better after blah blah blah." Things were so much more immediate when I was a kid.

While I never want to again, and had never planned to ever spank her; I have to say that within seconds it was all over. There was no other, quicker, or more effective way to end forty minutes of horror for her, with the scary anger and for me, with the screaming and screaming. The kid can throw a tantrum. I'm so glad to see that others can commiserate.
It's an awful feeling to carry around.

Carrien said...

Some times I find that something immediate and shocking can be good discipline. But not when temper erupts, and in a prescribed way that's laid down before hand. Specific action, specific consequence. Always the same. Always dispassionate. Always consistent

I am guilty of the pull to hard, move too roughly, manhandle just a little the child who is misbehaving instead of using the prescribed consequence however.


So here's a hug, and a smile, and the assurance that you'll do it better next time, you are too good a mommy to not. :)

Bravo for letting it all hang.

Jolyn said...

This was simply stunning: your transparency and your ability to portray it in the written word.

Omaha Mama said...

I think you and I have bonded over a too-tight arm squeeze confession before. I've been there with the arm swat too. And the bottom spank.

I vascillate between trying to be a kind and gentle disciplinarian and a 'spare the rod, spoil the child' believer.

I think finding the balance is hard, and I appreciate that you wrote of it so beautifully. :0)

mek said...

Ugh. I've become a floor slapper when I feel that anger flaring up. Which of course my girl finds amusing. Which is infuriating. While I know the recommendation is "redirect her attention!" - she is a mulish one. Her ability to concentrate on one activity when it is an activity she should not be engaged in amazes me. I hope that she will use her power for good.

Lawyer Mama said...

She is a handful, isn't she. That forceful personality sounds so familiar. My youngest is like that.

I spanked Hollis once when he ran away from me in a crowd. He was more shocked than anything but I felt so incredibly bad about it.

bren j. said...

Ahh! That's is SO sweet. Thanks for sharing such a private moment.

About Sus said...

Wow, I've just found about about your blog and a few others in Wondertime, and all of a sudden I may not complain so much about our back porch society: I have daytime friends with kids! Thank you!

lildb said...

you just identified a thing that has bothered me my whole life, that my mother always waited to apologize until *after* I had done so first.

and somehow, reading your version of it, because I cannot get my mother to explain hers to me, is healing.

thanks, G.

thank you.

hydeslikeus said...

Well- she certainly knows her mind, doesn't she? You're brave to share such a private moment. What a lovely read.

Hydes

dawn224 said...

oh... this is a glimpse into my future.

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh my -- been there. I actually hit my utterly insufferable then ten year old TWICE about a year ago, within the same week. We were literally locked in a death battle.

While agonizing about this to my husband, he said, calmly: If this is the parenting road you're going to take, hitting them, then make that a conscious decision and choice. And know that I'm not going there with you. Or don't do it.

I never did it again, although the RAGE it does build.

JCK said...

This was a great post. I appreciate your honesty.

I have always had difficulty apologizing. I am hopeful that I can practice through my children. I am learning to do it in small steps. Like them.