I lost my shit yesterday at Target. I mean, completely lost it. I’m not proud, and I may switch Targets because when I say I lost it what I really mean is I spanked Boss. I’ve been a in a spiraling K-hole of shame and dispair ever since.
I’ve never spanked my child before. I don’t believe in spanking. My mother spanked me once when I was about Boss’ age and then she took me shopping. I understand both impulses now. Once when I was about 15 she told me she was going to shove my head into a wall. I have conveniently forgotten to remember what I did to cause such a statement from a woman who has never and would never do such a thing but I can guarantee you one thing: she would have been totally justified if she had actually carried through with that threat.
Leading up to the point where I lost my shit was 10 consecutive hours of arguing with my child. Do not climb on the chair and jump off the balcony said I. So he did. Do not spit on me, said I. He did. Do NOT spit on your brother, said I. He did. It wasn’t just willing disobedience, it was endangering himself which is not his usual modus operandi. I tried everything. Usually his currency is his toys. I can usually say “Leonardo going away in 1,2…” and before I get to two the behavior has stopped. At the worst, a time out will work. Time outs usually mean he is tired and needs a break. I don’t even mind a little disobedience. He is nearly five and testing his boundaries on all fronts. But when it comes down to safety or destroying things and injuring others….no. Just no.
I tried everything. He has been working to earn the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (How I miss the days of Smurfette now). Raphael costs $20 so he needs to earn 20 points. First thing, he lost his points. Then Michelangelo was gone. Then Donatello and finally our leader in blue Leonardo. All gone. It did nothing . One time out, then two, then three. Nothing. Huckleberry went down for a nap and I thought perhaps a tv show and some snuggles would work. Sometimes it’s just a cry for attention, and we had been gone in Ohio where Huck became super needy so I hardly saw Boss at all. Nothing doing. He jumped on me, kicked me, threw things at the computer, threatened to smash my camera.
Who was this boy? All I could think was if he rested for ten minutes I could regroup and he could relax.
It was my fault. I KNEW I shouldn’t have taken them out. But having just gotten back from Ohio we had nothing in the house; specifically cereal and milk and the five other things my children will eat. This includes green beans, so I don’t feel too horrible. He promised to be good. I told him maybe he could earn a point or two back towards Raphael and he seemed to like this idea. Oh, if only it had worked. I got everything as quickly as I could while he screamed and tossed a giant ball down every aisle. I employed all my tricks. Nothing worked. He took off like a shot for the jewelry section and began messing with the necklaces. I told him to stop. Again and again. I redirected behavior. I removed him from the situation, we headed to check out and LEAVE. He went back and I could see myself buying 30 $16 necklaces because he broke them all. That’s when I lost my shit. I grabbed his arm in that way that only moms can and I smacked his booty. Having been trained in stage combat and never in real combat I smacked the only way I knew how, a good old stage smack. This means my hand was cupped so it makes a loud sound when the air is pushed out at the time of impact so it doesn’t really hurt. But it’s LOUD. And to the elderly couple near us it must have sounded like I hit him with a big old piece of wood. WHACK.
The sound stopped him more than the hit and he looked at me shocked – and this is what killed my soul – betrayed. His face reddened and tears sprang as he howled “Mommy, you hitted my bottom!” I knelt down and cuddled him in my arms and we had a Come to Jesus talk about listening. I told him I never, ever wanted to do that again. That I never ever wanted to do that in the first place. I resisted the urge to buy the entire toy department. This is where we were and I had to stick to it. Within a minute he said it didn’t hurt and we hugged tightly, both of us teary eyed. We came home and he ate a good dinner saying “this was perfect mommy, thank you.” then I drew a new graph for Raphael and he earned two points for clearing the table and we went to bed. We cuddled up for bed and he settled down, I kissed his cheek and he laughed that musical giggle. That tickled he whispered. I whispered back we had a bad day today, but tomorrow will be better. Even when you misbehave, when you have time outs, I love you. I always love you. Nothing will ever change that.
His eyelashes fluttered and he fell asleep with a little smile. But I lay awake. Today he has forgotten all about it, he is all smiles and cuddles, but I will never forget that on July 10th 2013 my hand touched my child with something other than love. I’m not over it.