I would like to think that my 17-month old daughter is a very obedient child. When I tell her not to go outside, she stays inside. When I tell her not do this or do that, she normally listens. Despite the fact that she doesn’t really talk yet, she definitely understands what mommy means. That, however, was not the case yesterday.
As I was preparing dinner, I sat her up on the counter like I normally do since she loves to help me prepare the veggies and what not. To keep her occupied, I cracked some eggs in a big bowl, put it in front of her, and handed her a single chopstick so she can help mommy “beat the eggs.” Now, I’m not quite sure why but I guess you could say she was feeling very mischievous at the moment. She was about to put the chopstick that contained raw eggs in her mouth until I said in a very firm tone “Rachel, no.” Usually, that’s all that’s needed for her to stop and not do it anymore. But for some reason, it was like she was testing her limits, she did it again. And once again, I went “Rachel, no.” Now this must’ve happened at least 10 times. She didn’t actually put it in her mouth but she would hold the chopstick close to her face and look at me, waiting for me to notice so I could, once again, tell her not to do it. Maybe she thought it was funny, maybe she thought I didn’t mean it. Who knows what goes on in the brain of a 17-month old. Clearly she was listening to me, but not listening to me (if that makes any sense). Strike one.
As my daughter was happily beating away at the eggs, I started slicing chicken breasts and putting it in a separate bowl to marinade. For some reason, my daughter decided that beating the eggs was now not enough activity for her. She poked the marinaded chicken with her egged chopstick and kept doing it despite the fact that I asked her to stop. And because there was nothing I can do (my hands had the stench of raw meat and I wasn’t done slicing the chicken), I let it slide. Strike two.
After slicing the chicken, I washed my hands so I can put her down on the floor. She was perfectly content not being on the counter anymore and went to play with her toys. Two minutes later, she returns and starts messing with the tupperware and dishes under the counter. At that time, I was preparing the marinade for the chicken and touching the raw meat again so I couldn’t physically move her but I told her several times to stop making a mess and go play with her toys. My words fell on deaf ears. She started taking the tupperware out one by one and throwing it on the floor, making a huge mess. I finished up what I was doing as fast as I can, washed my hands, and went to do what (I would think) every mother would do.
I smacked her bottom.
Now it wasn’t a painful smack. There was no redness, or bruising, or any evidance of what I did and I’m sure her diaper took most of the blow. I doubt it hurt that much or even at all. But my little baby certainly received the message I was trying to send. The next thing I know, she bursts into tears and throws up her hands asking for a hug. I didn’t want to waver in what was done. I wanted to be stern and follow through so I took her by the hands, pointed at each of the items she threw on the floor, and made her pick it up and hand it to me. She did this while still crying. After all of it was picked up (it took less 30 seconds), I picked her up and lovingly hugged her, and rocked her, and explained to her that this behavior will not be tolerated and she can’t just go around making a mess.
Now it wasn’t really that incident that got to me, it was more of what happened afterwards. From that one smack, it seemed like her whole world turned upside down. She wanted to be picked up and hugged right after it happened. As if she wanted me to reassure her that mommy still loves her. She needed constant closeness to me afterwards. When I put her down to sleep or for a nap, I used to be able to sneak away. She would open her eyes, see me leave, and go back to sleep. But ever since I hit her, she would need me close even when she’s sleeping. she would wake up when she feels me slipping away and just cry. I don’t know, maybe it’s the guilt from what I did. Maybe it’s because she’s (obviously) not used to getting punished since she’s a good baby 99% of the time.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” That’s what I grew up believing. If you care about your children, you will punish them when they do something wrong. But now, in this day and age of attachment parenting, there are definitely kinder measures that can be taken. I know it’s a constant saying, but parenting definitely does not come with a handbook. They just come with a crap load of advice and tips from other parents and family members that think they know what it’s all about. But in the end, the way you raise your child is the way the child will be raised. Now I can’t guarantee that she won’t misbehave anymore, but I can definitely promise myself that next time I decide she needs a good spanking, I’ll remember this incident and her reaction after. And that will be reason enough for me to never raise my hand again (until she’s a crazy teenager).
Until next time,
Mrs. Uncle Bob
PS. Parenting tips greatly appreciated here!