These are the words my sweet boy asked me yesterday evening as I sat with him on the floor at his train table. He was trying to maneuver around me, or rather over me, as he was racing his trains around the track. He came upon my legs for the first pass and said…
“Are you going to bite me?”
I was a bit appalled and said “No, of course not!”
He clambered over my legs and continued on and when he got back to my offending legs on the next pass, he looked at me in all seriousness and said again…“Are you going to bite me?”
And then I remembered.
I had swatted his hand as we were leaving the zoo this morning. And it stung. I know it stung from the way he started crying, not out of anger, but real sadness. I had been trying to adjust the canopy of his stroller over his head (we have the City Mini Elite, so this canopy is HUGE; it covers him almost completely when extended to its full length). And he usually loves having himself covered, and will normally whine about how the sun is in his eyes until I move it over him. So I was pre-emptively adjusting it as we walked to the car in the almost 100 degree heat in Houston at 12:15 in the afternoon on a cloudless day.
He apparently wasn’t in the mood to be protected and shoved the canopy back up as I was pushing it down catching my fingers and it hurt. I was pissed and hot and sweaty and tired. I smacked his hand in retaliation.
He wailed.He cried.
Not for long, but long enough for me to feel bad and to apologize once we were at the car. I did also tell him he really hurt Mommy when he shoved the stroller top up. We got in the hot car, irritated with one another. He was asleep within 5 minutes.
He woke up 80 minutes later a happy boy. We had moved on, or so I thought. Until last night playing after dinner.”Are you going to bite me?” I feel just awful. Just terrible. I was always one of those people who said she would never spank her kid. And then I did it. On his little leg once…a little smack that didn’t phase him. Once on his diapered bottom…what an absolute waste of kinetic energy. And one more time on his leg that did phase him.
And I can’t remember why or what he did. Only that the time outs hadn’t worked. He needed to stop his behavior and no amount of me telling, yelling or crying would stop it.
And each time I said I would never do it again.
Then I did.
Well I know now that I will never do it again.
I never, ever want my child to fear physical harm from me. Never. I never want that sweet boy of mine, who does have bad behavior at times, to ask me if I’m going to hit him. Never.
Fearing my disapproval or disappointment is one thing.
Fear that the one person who is his whole world will raise her hand to strike him is a whole other thing.
So I told him…
“No, Tate I’m not going to bite you. I’m sorry I hurt your hand earlier. Do you want me to kiss it?”
He said yes and held out the correct hand. I kissed it. We hugged.
When he got in trouble today, he said….
“I don’t want a time out.”
That I can live with.