Bad Behavior.

It was the end of a busy week. Buzzy's cousins had visited, and we'd all had a wonderful time, but their absence Friday morning left her out of sorts. Her behavior alternated--one minute, mopey and whiny, the next, manic and crazy with bad behavior. Note to the parenting police: I know I should say, "inappropriate behavior," but you should probably stop reading now because things are only going to deteriorate.

By Friday night, I was sick and tired all around--sick and tired of Buzzy's attitude, exhausted because I hadn't slept much, and I had such a sore throat and was so hoarse that my raspy whisper had prompted someone at the park to ask me if I was from New York. Greg had to work late. The baby was fussy. We got through dinner, bite by painful bite. Buzzy's bath, unfortunately, couldn't be skipped due to the aforementioned trip to the park. She kept turning on the cold water and shrieking in that piercing, two-year-old key when it splashed her body. I managed to keep from shrieking when it hit me, too, but the baby cried loudly from her bouncy seat in the hallway.

I gritted my teeth and figured I could make it--her bedtime and my sanity were just minutes away. But Buzzy squirmed from my efforts to dry and diaper her. I started yet another count to three, threatening the loss of her beloved story time if she didn't cooperate. Somewhere after two, she kicked her towel towards the baby. "That's THREE! You lost stories!" I roared. So much for remaining calm. Then, out of nowhere, I spanked her (undiapered and bare) bottom.

She stopped, looked at me with shock, then started sobbing. I was horrified. Buzzy had never been spanked. Generally, I don't think it's an effective form of discipline, and I don't approve of doing it in anger. So much for my principles. I stared at my distraught girl in the hallway, wanting to hug her but not sure if I would make her more upset. Then she well and truly broke my heart by coming to me and lifting up her arms for comfort.

"Oh, baby, mommy's so sorry." I murmured. "Mommy should not have spanked you like that. I should have a time out."

"But, Mommy," she said, tearfully, "You're a grown up." Oh, baby girl. Of all the ways to learn that her mommy isn't perfect and that grown ups make mistakes.

The baby continued crying as Buzzy calmed in my arms. I didn't want to leave Buzzy, but she looked at me, wearily. "Mommy, get Rosie." I went. Our bedtime routine resumed, calmly now. After I tucked Buzzy in, and her prayers were said, and we did our "good night, sleep tights", she added, "And, Mommy, try not to spank me again, 'kay?"

I recounted/confessed the events of the evening to Greg later that night. He questioned whether I should have apologized for spanking her. He's not a spanking advocate, either, but pointed out that, "Back in the day, it wasn't a big deal." I don't know. I will never forget her bewilderment that I did something wrong; causing that confusion and shaking her world seemed an injury bigger than the spanking itself. Is two too young to learn that mommies can make big mistakes? However, keeping my "Mother knows best" credentials when I'd spanked her in anger didn't seem right, either. Plus, obviously, I didn't want her to think that hitting was okay. I kept the apology simple and tried to move on quickly. I don't think I'll spank her again, and I sincerely hope Buzzy's a lot older before I demonstrate again how fallible grown ups--even mommies--can be.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I feel your frustration and your confusion. I have been there. Being mommy is hard hard work. But I think the best sentence in this post is the question, "Is two too young to learn that mommies make mistakes?"

    For what it's worth, Elizabeth, I would have done much the same as you. I have always felt that we can never start early enough modeling for our kids the hard discipline of saying sorry and asking for forgiveness. If we feel in our hearts that we have wronged our kids - even if those kids were being wrong themselves - I think that we share life lessons by modeling remorse.

    That's one mama's perspective. And it's been difficult for me to implement as I am not always good at saying sorry. But it has been powerful to watch my boys learn that everyone is called to say sorry when the occasion arises. Even mama. Especially mama.

    Best wishes friend - this parenting thing is hard - and it's good to know we are all in it together.



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