Bad morning, part 379

I spanked Mallory this morning.

Chris and I kind of vowed, in a non-binding kind of way, not to spank our kids. We don't care what other people do, we just figured we'd try other methods of discipline first. This morning I tried all the other methods and none of them worked, and she's been awful, simply awful, every morning this week, and I'd had it, and in a moment of I-don't-know-what-else-to-do, I spanked her.

And honestly, it was kind of a relief. Not because it worked -- because it didn't, it just made the whole situation worse. "You hurt me!" she howled, and then she started hitting me, and then she told me how mean and awful I was, and then she cried for her daddy, and none of this drama helped us get to school on time. No, I was relived because it didn't work. Because now I know it doesn't work, and I can stop wondering, in the midst of every upcoming power struggle we have, whether I should just haul off and spank her. Now I know it's not effective, and I'm satisfied with that.

I apologized, a few minutes later. I told her that I was angry, and that I shouldn't have hit her, and that hitting was wrong no matter who does it, and that later we'd sit down and work out a better way of handling our mornings so they don't all end up in a screaming match. And we hugged for a minute and then she ate her waffle and I think she's fine. I also think it's quite probable that she'll bring up the incident many times in the coming decades because that's the kind of child she is.

Because she also remembers this:

A few months ago we were out in the backyard. I was over by the fence with Mallory, searching for caterpillars, when I heard Phoebe cry out. I turned and saw her dangling backward from the treehouse ladder. I sprinted across the lawn -- moving faster than I had for years -- and caught her before she fell on her head. Trauma averted, Phoebe was fine, and I hadn't even thought Mallory noticed what was going on. A few weeks later, though, she said apropos of nothing, "If I were falling out of the treehouse and I called for you, would you run run run to save me?"

And of course I said yes.

And I say to Mallory (and Phoebe) now:

I will nag at you to eat your vegetables. I will make you brush your teeth and pick up your toys. I will deny you a third piece of Valentine's candy and I will force you to buckle up in the car. I will not let you watch TV all day long and I will not let you finger paint after your bath. I will snap at you when you try my patience and I will yell at you when you frustrate me and I will yank you, not gently, by the arm if you try to run off in the parking lot.

But I will always run run run to catch you if you fall. And I hope that makes up for all the rest.


aimee said...

That last part is sweet. It is funny, all those parenting books, that tell us unknowing parents to do this or try that. The truth is, what works for one child doesn't work for the other, even if they are both the same kids. I still haven't figured out what works for Noah (even though spanking does get his attention and makes him straighten up for the day, I still don't like doing it and will try other things first). Anyway, I hope you find something that works for you and bravo for having Mallory help you figure it out. (Sorry this is so long!)

Anonymous said...

And that should be good enough for anyone!