June 28, 2011

Shouting is the new smacking

I still can’t quite believe what happened the other day at Tawa Pool. Harper and I were there for his swimming lesson, and then a muck around in the toddler pool. There’s an area near the toddler pool that families often book for birthday parties and alike. The last time we were there, there was a big swag of people with lots of children and littlies having a swim and a party. Pizzas were delivered, kids were in the pool and everyone was having a lovely time.
There was one adult in the pool with the kids, lying in the shallow water just kind of hanging out. He was probably about 30. A little boy was kind of leaning on a tap that shoots out water across the toddler pool and he was so small that when we leaned on it with his tummy, his feet left the floor. He was just hanging out there, on his tummy, his feet dangling. A couple of other kids had their back to him and were playing underneath the tap. This was all going on about four feet away from me.
I hear the adult, let’s call him Big Man, say ‘Oi, kid, come here.’ He made a fist and kind of shook it at the little boy. The little boy dutifully wandered over to Big Man. Big Man took Little Kid’s foot in his hand and smacked his leg. I felt the smack like a punch in the stomach. ‘Don’t kick people,' said Big Man. Guess Little Kid’s feet hit another kid’s head, though I didn’t see it. But I did see an adult whack a child, and though I was shocked, I didn’t do anything.
Later, when it was time for us to leave, Harper became the devil incarnate, and ran away from me. He wouldn’t listen to what I was asking him to do, getting hysterical at the idea of leaving the pool. He’s been doing this a lot. Just getting him out of bed somedays results in hysterical screaming that I can’t handle. So I ran after him at the pool and grabbed him, kicking and screaming, back to where his clothes were. He hit me in the face. I yelled at him. I lost it at him.
So there are two things troubling me. One, that I was too gutless to say anything to the man assaulting his child. And two, that I assaulted my child, but in a different way. Sometimes, it seems to me, Harper is just doing what three-year-olds do; pushing the boundaries, seeing how far he can go. He’s trying to assert some control over his own life. And I respond to all this by becoming an ogre.
Mornings are the worst. Evenings are also bad. Anything that involves getting dressed, eating food, me asking him to do anything, going to bed, getting out of bed, or getting somewhere on time all result in something that looks like Bosch’s scenes of hell. He screams. He hits me. He yells No! I try to be zen, I try to stay calm, I talk in a low, quiet voice. I try to remember I am the ultimate rock star in his life, but somewhere along the line, a switch goes off in my head. I yell back, louder, angrier. I hate myself. I am sure he hates me.
I read blogs where the mothers and children and houses are always perfect, and I think, “what’s wrong with me? Why can't I be like that?”
Is there something wrong with me? Or do other parents hang on by their fingernails too?


Beth Up North said...

You are the mother of a three year old. That is all that is wrong, and just as it is supposed to be developmentally. I remember going to the doctor for my own visit when Alex was that age and they always ask, "Do you feel safe at home?". I said, "Well, my three year old hits me...". I know many mom's who would give themselves time outs in the closet to get away from their darlings. I remember utter defeat one day when Alex was pulling my hair, I had a meltdown and hid under the covers in bed. I did have the luxury of calling my husband away from his work and handing duties over for the rest of the day. About that time I got the book 1-2-3 Magic, and it really does work. It starts out saying children are more like wild animals, not little adults, and I was hooked from that sensible moment! "The Terrible Twos" get all the press, but I was told by many parents that the threes are much worse. Cold comfort at the time, but it is true. Now that my kiddo is 7 I barely remember those battles, but your blog brought them back. He happily gets dressed, brushes teeth, leaves the house, etc., just by being told. It will happen, I promise!! And you will forget too, so don't delete this blog.

Good luck, and don't be too hard on yourself.

Ange said...

Hear, hear, what Beth just said. Bullet points:
- Harper is three. They're mostly all built like that when they're three. Soon enough he'll be four and there'll be a swag of different ways for him to ruin your opinion of yourself;
- don't believe anyone who doesn't include spinouts in their mum-type blogs. Either they're dissociative or they're lying; and
- we all love that little b*&tard. He's so great.

Mel Archer said...

Because they're not like that either (unless meds are involved ;) )....

Mrs Govier said...

So I have more joy to come :o)
You are doing a fabulous job and those who say their kids are perfect are lying....I know this for a fact. Parents really do look at their own kids through rose coloured glasses.
Try to remember its all just a phase.

Keep smiling


Raewyn said...

Every day. Every. Day.

che said...

am anticipating what we'll do when chef du plunge gets to his age.

probably be a lot of dad taking him aside and sitting him on the "thinking chair".

maybe. locking them in a cupboard with spiders is a no-no these days, right?

just checking.

what about cockroaches?

The KitchenMaid said...

You mean it won't be over when she turns three? Oh god. This must be why gin was invented... (I've never seen blogs with perfect children, I must be looking in the wrong places!)