I was at church. Mid-gospel reading, holding my fifteen-month-old baby (yes, baby. I still call him that). Ben squirmed and squeaked, this was playtime. A semi-quiet room packed with people, and Baby wanted to explore, flirt with the old ladies behind us. Not sit quietly in my arms with Brown Bear, Brown Bear and That’s Not My Pony for entertainment. Cheerios and Puffs, my go-to public bargaining treats because a gooey cinnamon roll or banana makes for messy public consumption, were not working. My kid reached his be-still limit.
His reaction, a smack to my face. Is it safe to say, hitting? I’m not fond of that word, violence comes to mind when I hear “hit.” My child is not violent. He’s fifteen-months old, going on sixteen months in days and doesn’t want to sit still for an hour long mass.
This was the first time in public, my kid swiped his hand in the direction of my face (comical anyone?). Contact was made. My nose to be exact.
My cheeks flushed bright red, a hushed silence fell around me. I think someone even gasped. How could my sweet brown angel eyed darling in his Sunday best, do such a thing! Do I discipline him in public? Throw Ben over my shoulders and leave? A stern warning in a corner?
I chose to ignore the incident, gathered my composure and listened to the good holy word in front of me.
Until it happened two seconds later. I carefully grabbed his gummy hand, placed it beside him and said, “Nice touches, we don’t hurt mommy.”
Cue the tantrum. Cheerios and Father Christensen held no power over a screaming toddler.
Toddler Terror and I spent the rest of mass in the hallway, where he skipped around the tiled steps, blew kisses at little girls, and followed anyone on their way to the restroom. Business playtime accomplished. Church is more fun outside, anyways. I’m hanging out back or in the cry room with same aged children and parents, nothing new.
But the hitting, and hitting in public is new.
Swipes to the face have happened at home. I’ve tried the ignore trick, over reacting and extravagating the great pain in my face because of the slap, a timeout, a stern explanation of the do’s and don’ts of hitting.
We get over the incident and maybe two days later, Babe Ruth Baby is practicing his batting swings on me, or the cat. Each time, I said, “No hitting,” and explain and show him what nice touches are. The patterned continued until I notice the magic word. Not please, but NO. The more “No’s” makes Ben want to do the action more.
After all, this is the same kid, who had a brief fling with biting, and every time I said, “Do not bite, Daddy/Mommy/Kitty/Doggy/Cousin/Friend,” he sinks his teeth in with more zeal than Dracula.
As I’m told, rest assure, this is normal. My pediatrician and other mommas reassured me; kids bite and hit, it’s a faze. But it’s how you handle the situation.
I’m taking the negative “no” out of the situation and transforming it to ,“We don’t do that, we do nice touches.” A show and tell perspective on the first try. The second swipe, a timeout of some sorts. Third try, a trip in the crib for a real timeout, no momma or blankie included.
So far, it’s working.
Until….Ben discovered throwing. Crayons, toys, books, sippy cup, plastic silverware – there is a whole new world of throwing objects and seeing where the objects lands. Preferably on the ground, or Mommy’s lap. Sometimes at the kitty (our cat officially hates us).
Testing, that’s all the little guy is doing. This is not malicious Damien evil child ways. But a game, how far can Baby push momma. If I swing my hand in the direction of her face and glasses, what reaction will I get? If I throw that crayon at momma, will she make a funny face and scrunch her nose? Do I get ice cream later?
Kids are going to push their limits. It’s all the matter of how I’m going to react.
For the next eighteen years, or longer.