Toddling on my last nerve

I’ve never been a fan of corporal punishment, but my two year old is making me rethink my entire belief system. Now I’m not trying to start some sort of debate about the pros and cons of spanking. I am not writing to praise or villify any parent. I’m only speaking from my perspective, and all I can say is that my patience is wearing thin.

I don’t really remember being physically punished as a child. I can count the number of times either of my parents raised a hand to me on one hand, with fingers to spare. If I got spanked more than the once I remember, well, I don’t remember it. My parents were always bigger on punishments like standing in the corner, grounding and the dreaded “talking to”–which, with my dad could last an hour or more. Granted, most of these punishments were when I got a bit older, but they are the ones I remember.

My husband, on the other hand, got spanked. And often from what I can tell. I think there may have even been a belt involved. I haven’t asked many questions. He knows I’m a pretty strong believer in not hitting kids, and he hasn’t really pushed the issue. He remembers his spankings, very well.

To spank or not to spank, isn’t really the issue here. My issue is with an amazingly willful two and a half year old. He can be the sweetest child on the planet. He loves cuddling up with me under a blanket and reading or watching Sesame Street. He wraps his arms around me for big hugs and tells me he loves me. He has no problems giving me (or most people he knows well) kisses. He laughs, he jokes, he’s great…like 80% of the time.

Then, there’s the other 20%, like tonight. We had a great day. I picked him up from the sitter and he was so excited to see me he wrapped those tiny arms around me and just hugged. We talked and sang all the way home. At the grocery store he helped me carry the basket and stayed right with me, no problems. We snuggled and watched Thomas the Train. We ate a great dinner. We even made it to Lowe’s to get paint for his new room.

All was well until it was time for bed. Usually he puts up no fight. When his timer goes off he heads back and we get teeth brushed, jammies on and stories read. Sure, he may lay in his bed and talk to himself for an hour, but he’s fine with it. Tonight he ran from us. We had to pry his Play-Doh out of his hand and I had to pick him up and carry him literally kicking and screaming to his room.

When I tried to change his diaper on his bed (I’m four months pregnant and getting up while I’m not really showing, I’m starting to feel pregnant and getting up and down off the floor is not so fun), he threw a real whopper of a temper tantrum. I tried explaining that I was hurting and couldn’t change him on the floor. It only seemed to raise his ire. He screamed and yelled. He told me, “you will not change me here.” My husband had to hold him down and even then I barely managed to get another diaper on him. It was awful.

My husband finally squirted a little water on him in an attempt to break the tantrum, which kind of worked. He forgot about his diaper issues and was, instead, balling because he got wet. Then he clung to me and sobbed for a few minutes. We spoke soothingly to him, rubbed his back and he calmed down. He even let me put him right back on the dreaded bed to get his jammies on. He brushed his teeth with no fuss. He was even excited about stories with my husband.

I have no idea what happened, but for about five minutes, a demon inhabited my home.

This is true at least once a day. Usually I’m lucky and my husband is home to help with it. Sometimes he throws a fit like that in Khol’s (after he’s been grabbed and carried because he decided it’d be fun to run away down and hide in the aisles). He’s taken to saying things like “I’m tired of this” and “You don’t talk to me like that” in very loud and harsh tones. Just like all two year olds, he’s also fond of the the word “no.”

Maybe I’m just taking this all too hard because I am pregnant and exhausted 90% of the time. I see other kids his age and their behavior seems equally attrocious at times, so I know it’s not just my kid. I just worry that this lovely phase is going to outlast my fairly cool level headedness. I’m getting a tad bit hormonal and I’m not sure how that’s going to manifest itself. Last pregnancy I just had obnoxious students to take it out on. This time around I have those and a toddler who thinks he’s a teenager.

Sigh…someone tell me this will pass.

1 Comment

Filed under bad days, love, married life, motherhood, my childhood, my stories, ramblings, what makes me me

One response to “Toddling on my last nerve

  1. I don’t honestly know how you handle a toddler, a full time job, and being pregnant. But I do know one thing, spanking a child isn’t wrong if it’s done with love.
    Through all of my psychology studies, one thing is apparent: middle-class white people see corporal punishment as a last resort. It’s something they do when they’ve run out of options and get frustrated or lose it. Lower-SES, minority, extended families in urban areas spank their kids because they love them and want to let them know they’ve done something bad.
    I honestly do not know how to separate the two because I’m of the school of “hitting children is bad” because of how I was treated as a kid.
    But if there is a way to do it, you can combine a punishment/reinforcement with warmth and an explanation.
    Somehow, many African American families manage to use corporal punishment as a way to say “this is for your own good,” and they don’t see it as a means to an end.

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