It seemed like every three minutes, a harsh, loud voice often followed by a smack would catch my attention. I tried not to jump every time, not to outwardly let on how uncomfortable the situation made me. I don't know if I succeeded or not.
She would say 'no, don't touch' or 'don't grab' or 'be nice', then kick his little diapered behind. I don't understand how you can hit a child and then tell them to be nice. I know people's opinions differ on this, but personally I don't see how hitting a kid (or anyone for that matter) makes YOU a nice person. She would smack his butt or arm and tell him no, then pick him up when he started to cry and say 'give me some love' or 'come over here and give me a hug'. I feel like that is just teaching a kid that it's okay for someone to hurt them and then be forgiven because they've said they love you or given you a hug.
Sometimes, I feel like I don't discipline Sam enough. He does get told No, but he rarely gets time outs. The thing is, I don't feel like he needs them. He listens to me for the most part, and if he DOESN'T listen to my warnings, he does get a time out. Sometimes he gets a talking to. He just doesn't misbehave that often. And even if he does, hitting him is not a consideration, and I will never do it.
At least that's what I thought. A couple of weeks ago, after an hour long tantrum complete with kicking, hitting, throwing himself on the ground, screaming and crying, I couldn't take it anymore. I took him outside the house we were in with friends and sat on the step watching him cry. He was inconsolable. He wanted something, but I just didn't know how to make him feel better. I started to cry and put my head down in my hands. The exhaustion and frustration overtook me and I felt like I was failing him. As I rested my head in my hands, feeling my tears on my fingers, he HIT me. He hit me on one of the hands covering my face. And I hit him back.
I didn't hit him hard, by any means. I swatted his arm, and told him no. Ironic, isn't it, to tell a kid not to hit as you do the same back to him? Remembering the look on his face, the way he placed his other hand on his arm, the way he looked at me so curious and hurt, breaks my heart. It bring me to tears now, and maybe it always will. I hate admitting that it happened. I hate even thinking about it.
I felt like a failure, how could I do such a thing to my own child? I apologized as he looked at me and we cried together. I hope it was the first and the last time, that I'll never lose it like that again. I know that some of you may be reading this thinking, what's the big deal, but to me it was a big deal, because touching someone in anger or frustration like that is NOT part of my values, nor is it a value I want to instill in my child. I know that Sam won't remember this. He may not even really remember it now, but certainly in a few years it will be just a faded moment of the past that doesn't touch him at all. But I'll remember. I will always remember. And if I forget, I'll come back and read about it, to remind myself how much it hurt and how it totally wasn't worth anything good in our lives.
So when I see someone slap a 17 month old child on the butt, I wonder how that's instilling good values in their child. All I can do is watch, and listen, and try to respect how they want to raise their kids. But in my place, I feel glad that I don't behave that way, and hope that when my children become parents one day, they won't either.