Friday, May 23, 2008

Bipolar Baby...

Um. What has happened to my child? I'm not digging this whole "hey, check me out! I'm two!" thing he's got going on right now. Today I was slapped no fewer than two dozen times, one time so forcefully across the face that my contact popped out of my eye.

Good times.

See, I'm one of those "I'll never spank my kids" people. Just am. No need to go into the litany of reasons why Husband and I have made that choice, nor is there any reason for anyone to tell me why I *should* spank my child. It ain't gonna happen, let's move on.

But that doesn't mean I don't sometimes WANT to spank my child. And this new "I am toddler, feel me smack...and kick...and pinch." crap he's rocking is a true test of my resolve to keep my own hands to myself. It has not been easy in the past 12 hours, of which he was awake for...12 hours, as he solidly refused to nap this afternoon (attempt #2 at nap time is what lead to the face smack which send my left contact flopping from my eyeball).

I am taking more deep cleansing breaths than a zen yoga master and putting on my calmest "hands are not for hitting" voice---I could so utilize this voice for dj'ing on an easy-listening station, but instead I spend what amounts to hours of my day saying, "Ethan, we don't hit. Hitting hurts and we don't want to hurt people. Please say you're sorry." I have walked out of the room with my hands shaking and stared out the window, counting to 10...or 110, in order to regain my composure.

Yes, this is toddlerhood. It's not like I'm blazing some new trail. No one is going to read this, clutch their pearls and say, "Oh my god! This is brand new behavior! What a fascinating case study!" But, though the behaviors may be as old as the hills and deeply rooted in a toddler's quest to establish boundaries and find an appropriate means of self-expression, it is NEW to me. It shocks me when my child strikes out at me and I take it way too personally; like crying in the bathroom, "wh...wh...why doesn't he like me????!!!" personally (irrationality, thy name is Sarah!).

And then, of course, there is that moment when I walk back into the room, the room where mere minutes before my child has pummeled me, and there he is, smiling as innocently as the day he was born and says, "Hi, Mama." (cue: Mama melting into puddles of lurve). Then we talk about why we don't hit---we talk about how hands are for clapping and patting the kitty and hugging, but not for hitting. Then he says, "Sorry, Mama," and more puddles and melting.

I know ten minutes later, he's more than likely going to haul off and smack me upside the head again, or pull the cat's tail (for which he received some impressive war wounds yesterday) and that we'll have to do this whole thing all over again. I know he won't learn the first time, or the second time even (or the 100th??!!!), and there's a tiny little part of me that fears to my core that he's going to grow up burning ants on the sidewalk with magnifying glasses or finding some other way to inflict pain on vulnerable living things. But most of the time I realize he's just being a toddler and going through these motions is how he learns how to manueveur his way through this world and his relationships with people.

I just wish it didn't leave me searching for one contact lens on the bedroom floor.


Bonnie said...

God, I remember that with my son. I even have to admit that there was a time when I smacked him on the leg after he gave me an especially vicious hit, just reactionary. Then I broke into tears and had to leave the room. I was horrified.

I found that having a policy of "I won't stay in the room with you if you hit" helped him learn that he did not get good results from doing it. But it took a while. And he still does it sometimes when he does not get what he wants, like watching a 2nd TV show or something.

Stephanie said...

We're in the tantrum/scream and cry/throw myself of the floor/and throw things AT you stage.

I am NOT looking forward to the hitting stage.

You are a pillar of to share?


sarah said...

bonnie--I think that's a good idea. I do tend to leave the room, but right now I tend to do so in my own adult-version of a tantrum. (um, lightbulb moment! LOL)

Perhaps if I can pull myself together and explain as I'm leaving that I wont' stay in the room if he's hitting, MAYBE that will have some impact.


Leap Year Dad said...

Timeout is a powerful tool (1 minute per year of age of child) As well as the introduction of delayed gratification. Go to the bottom of the stairs and study the door.

Of course, this from the man who spanked a 3 year old (my own) in the middle of Boston Common. At least I wasn't saying "I love you" while doing it.

How many times have I told you not to talk with food in your mouth?...Answer Me!... D'oh.

Becca said...

A glimpse into my future! Good times. I've been known to use my eerily calm but very very stern quiet voice for things like throwing a bottle of maple syrup in anger at the grocery store and breaking it. That voice scares my husband.

Anonymous said...

I hope you are doing something more for punishment than just leaving the room. Like time out. And then at the end of time out, you talk about why he was in time out & then make him apologize for hitting you.

We stopped the hitting immediately with time out. I think I only got hit a couple times.

Sarah said...

No assvice, just sympathy!

You know, I was attributing a lot of this to the new baby's arrival, but it sounds like normal toddlerhood. Super wicked fun, huh?

Amy said...

Sister you know I could have written this exact post. So no assvice, only sympathy.

The other day I got clocked so hard with a tupperware bowl to the nose that he laid me out on the kitchen floor.

Tress said...

Two words, my friend: spatula hands. No need to leave the room. No need to spank. Keep an arm's length away, which will make him crazy because he can see you but not touch you, unless he agrees to touch with love. It might work.

If not, three words: More Pinot Grigio.