or, actually, on second thought---don't.
Yes, we've entered into this phase of toddlerhood. I was hoping for another couple of months of blissful "Our little boy isn't going to be a brutish bully; he's too sweet for all that aggression" denial, but on Tuesday of this past week, I got whalloped upside the head with a harsh dose of reality. Or was it my son's feet? And fists?
I've seen it coming, I guess, if I'm to be completely honest. Play group is becoming more about what's mine and what's yours than about oblivious babbling and easy distraction when someone takes a toy currently being played with by another. They learn that possession is 9/10 of ownership really freaking early, these little ones. That goes for physical objects as well as their space in the room. There has been lots of shoving and grabbing as of late and moms trying to make sense of this new dynamic without over or under reacting. Welcome to unchartered territory in a previously comfortable social realm!
It's hard to complain, though, because with this new-found sense of ownership also comes a higher awareness of one another that leads to hugs and kisses, not to mention gleeful tandem squealing and interpretative dance. Seriously cute stuff that rivals all other cuteness that has come before. But I digress...
So it should not have come as a surprise to me when, on Tuesday morning, all hell broke loose when Mr. NewlyFoundAutonomy decided he wasn't ready for a nap. Not being equipped with words like, "Please Mama, I'd rather take my nap later on, seeing as I'm not quite sleepy as I usually am at this hour," Ethan decided to convey this message by grabbing hold of the skin on my cheek and pinching until he broke blood vessels.
I think the first time a toddler strikes out at a parent is incredibly shocking. I mean, here he has been, up to this point, the sweetest of little guys. All besos and hugs, barely a tantrum thrown in there once a week for a matter of 20-30 seconds. It seems impossible that he has it in him to find that kind of aggression and take it out on the person who loves him most.
But there it was: kicks, smacks, pinches--he has an extensive repertoire, if I say so myself. Several times we attempted the nap and several times I found myself to be the punching bag of choice. My dismay at being kicked and pinched was met with giggles and glee from Mr. Ethan, which just rattled my cage all the more, of course. And considering the child has never witnessed violence, I think it goes a long way in speaking to the "lord of the flies" side of human nature. It's in there and somehow, we have to find another way to help him communicate so he doesn't learn to rely on that side of his nature.
Sadly, I am not proud of my own reaction. I wish I was an endless pit of patience and understanding. But I was pissed off. I understood, ever so briefly, why people shake their kids. I didn't, I wouldn't. I did walk away though and close the door rather dramatically behind me. And then I felt like shit because the noise scared him and he cried and I'm the adult for fuck's sake, I need to pull it together and go be a mother to this child, even if he's acting like a sociopath taking delight in lighting ants on fire on the sidewalk. He's my sociopath, damnit.
So I went in, shushed my crying toddler into a nap, then went downstairs and sobbed like a lunatic for 20 minutes.
Yesterday we went to Borders and picked up the book Hands Are Not for Hitting and we're going to make it a part of our daily book rotation. Hopefully the next time he goes to take a swing, we can deflect the blow with a rendition of "itsy bitsy spider" instead.