Before your kids are born, you have all these ideas (ideals ?) about raising them, and you think you’re all high and mighty because you know exactly how you’re going to raise them, and the things you will do, and the things you will definitely never do.
Am I right? Am I right? And how many of us have fallen off our high horse and landed flat on our face almost as soon as the little bundle showed up?
My whole life, my parents always emphasized the fact that they had never hit us. Growing up, our house was filled with the usual chaos of any home, but without the physical violence. My mom used to yell at us (quite a bit and understandably so) but we were never scared that she would lay a hand on us. My dad had a different approach. He didn’t yell, he didn’t hit. He just worked the saddest look on his face and just like that, your heart broke into a million pieces and you swore you’d never do whatever-it-was-you-did-in-the-first-place ever again. And all of that worked for us. In fact it worked so good that I always told myself I would never hit my kids. I told myself I would always find another way, because if my parents did it, I could do it too, right?
My kids are 15 months apart. They drive me, us, nuts. It started innocently enough, with a little pat on the hand when they would get too close to something hot or sharp. Then we would do it when one would push the other, a little smack on the hand. Then it was when they would scream at us when we said ‘no’ to something…
Today is the last straw. Something happened between my older son and my husband this morning. I’m not sure what it was or how it happened. I was standing in the kitchen when I heard my son run in, screaming, trying to get away from his dad. My husband came marching in ordering him to “come here!” – I wasn’t sure what they were doing so I said “he thinks you’re going to hit him” – to this my husband simply replied “yeah, I know he thinks I’m going to hit him” – what bothered me the most about this exchange was the look on his face. He was almost proud that our son was scared of him. That’s when I knew it had to stop. I stepped in, diffused the situation.
My husband grew up in a home where they were all scared of his mother. He hated it. He hated how she would make them feel. How did he suddenly turn into her?
Today I swore to my kids, and to myself that it would never happen again. Never again. My job, OUR job, is to protect them. We somehow got carried away and I am disgusted with ourselves for letting this rage into our home in the first place. It started off as nothing and honestly never went beyond the smack on the hand, but this morning’s episode was more than enough to convince me that even that small of a gesture is unnecessary.
For the rest of the day, I worked hard on using my words to explain things but also on using my ears to HEAR what the kids had to say. They both took a couple of turns in time out on a chair in the same room as everybody. The rule is fairly simple: sit on the chair until you are ready to join everyone, say sorry and be happy again. It worked just fine. We all have the right to get mad and frustrated, and as adults we know how to take the time to work through our emotions… I now strongly believe kids can do it too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard and they will kick and scream their way all the way to the chair… but after a few seconds of you explaining and them sitting on their own something happens… and they get over it.
So tonight I tucked my babies in, gave them each a big hug and plenty kisses, and promised them again, that from now on, things will be different.