I don't like being smacked, scratched, punched, clawed or bitten. I don't think I'm alone in this. But apparently I am alone in the fact that I didn't really think that all these acts of physical violence come with the territory of motherhood.
Side note: Why is it that becoming a mom has made me feel like even more of a baby dummy than I was before I had kids? All this stuff I never knew that turn out to be "common knowledge" just make me feel like a huge idiot. Like the fact that I didn't know that child-on-parent physical abuse begins at 9 months and not 2 years. Was everyone just keeping this a secret or something? (Or worse, what if L is the only baby who beats on his mother and is just really violent and destined for a life in and out of the clink?)
In what will be the most obvious thing you will hear/read today, I do not enjoy the fact that my baby has become a bite-sized bully. And I don't know how to stop it. L loves to hit and pound on everything. Seriously - everything. This lady at church whom I've never officially met is obsessed with L and always tries to sit near us when she sees us. That weekend when L was really sick, we left him with my parents when we went to church. When we got there, the lady turned to us at the sign of peace and said, "Where's Bam Bam? That's what I call him because he loves to bang on things."
Naturally, my face and collarbone are not excluded from the list of things he likes to hit. He also likes to use his thumbnail to dig into my hand when I'm holding him. I don't understand that one. Why does he only use his thumb? Why doesn't he go for the five-finger claw?
And lately, he has taken to biting. I chalk this one up to teething, but it really doesn't make the pain easier to take. Again in church (I think he likes to get me when I'm most vulnerable and surrounded by tons of witnesses), I was holding him and he was facing behind me, smiling and laughing at the people in the row behind us. He rubbed his face on my shoulder and I thought he might be getting sleepy, when suddenly I felt a very sharp and painful bite. Of course, this was during one of the most sacred and quiet times of the Mass, so the only sound was the priest saying the prayers. My initial reflex was to rip him off my shoulder, bring him to face me and whisper a fierce (and not super quiet) "NO!"
Then I gave him to D because I didn't want to have any more pain inflicted on me, and L immediately began to blow raspberries and further attract the adoring attention of the people around us. I looked at him and could not stop laughing. For some reason, it always seems harder to control your laughter in church, and I was just cracking up. Not wanting to encourage that behavior at church, I tried to hide my face so he couldn't see me laughing, but the damage was done. He knew I (and everyone around us) was laughing, and he gave his half-chuckle like, "Yeah, you know you love me."
And on the way home, I moved the shoulder of my shirt and saw that I had a rather large raised welt from his bite.
It's so hard to be consistent with the "no physical violence rule". Where do you draw the line? Should we try to stop the virtually non-stop smacking and pounding he does on any flat surface he can find? I am certain he translates pounding the table to smacking me in the face, but obviously one is somewhat acceptable and the other is not so much.
What the heck is a mom supposed to do, aside from longing for the age where he is somewhat capable of reasoning right from wrong? I really don't know. And it is wearing me out. It's pretty hard to come home from work and be ex.hau.sted. and go to pick him up, only to get smacked in the face. And it's even harder to remind myself in those moments that he is just a baby and is not trying to hurt me, don't take it personally, these are not reflections of how he feels about you, STOP TAKING IT PERSONALLY!
I have a really hard time separating my emotions from any situation, especially those to do with kids. I tend to see things in regards to rules and right and wrong. I used to babysit for this kid (who was maybe 7 at the time) and he LOVED to cheat at games. He could not stand to lose, so he cheated as part of his normal strategy. It drove me crazy.
I would find myself getting seriously upset whenever I'd play games with him and his brothers, and one time I even got into an argument with him. As in, I was actually going back and forth with a 7 year old about the rules of the game. I knew he was cheating and he knew he was cheating, but he was trying to convince me that his cheating was an actual way the game could be played. Instead of being the adult and saying something calm and mature like, "I'm sorry, but if you're not going to play fair, then you can't play the game with us," I allowed us to go back and forth in an endless round of "Nu uh!" "Yuh huh!"
So now that I'm dealing with the hitting with L, it's really hard for me to deal with it. To me, you just don't hit. Kids don't hit their parents. L should really understand this. I've told him "no" beyond a thousand times. Why isn't it sinking in? It takes every iota of my self control not to get angry when he hits me. Because I get mad when someone hurts me. Even if it's an accident.
Am I the only one who does this? Like, the first thought I have when I stub my toe is, "Oh man, this is going to really hurt in a few seconds." The second thought I have is, "WHERE THE HELL DID THAT TABLE COME FROM??" And then I'm pissed off at the table and in pain.
I guess this is simply yet another example that having kids is one big learning and growing experience for the parents. Hopefully by the time Babela #2 gets here, I won't be so upset about the physical violence because I won't be so caught off guard when my formerly sweet and affectionate baby turns into Lord (or Lordess) of the Smacking.
Or, I'll just end up teaching my kids that the proper response to pain is anger.
Let's hope it's the former.