Monday, January 29, 2007

Ow! Stop that!

Today's theme: how to make a small child stop doing shit that hurts.

Don't get me wrong: my girl is a sweetheart, it's just that for as long as she's been with us, she's been prone to doing things, generally accidentally, that hurt mommy. And for reasons I don't entirely understand, it tends to upset me.

This sort of thing has always bothered me--I remember a friend telling me years ago about how her toddler accidentally scratched her (the mother's) cornea and I was utterly horrified. As in, wow, I'm never having children, kind of horrified.

Some of that is because I've always been squeamish about eyeball stuff, which is why I'll never get Lasik, but I think some of my horror is because I seem to have absorbed two rules: 1. You don't hurt family; family doesn't hurt you. Period. Yes, accidents happen, but you take care not to hurt people and extra special care not to hurt family members. Don't hurt family. What can I say? They're my people, and we're clannish. And 2. Don't yell at infants and tiny children.

So, it creates a dilemma, doesn't it? She transgresses one of the biggest rules I have but you can't do anything about it. And I'm still getting it through my head that she's not a tiny child anymore.

It's been coming up lately because Sweet Baby Girl has been very physical lately. Riding her bike, wanting to spin me around, that sort of thing. I think it's because the sun has come out a couple of times and we're giddy.

But she's also hurt me, too. I went to pick her up the other day and just as she was almost to my hip, wham! her knee came up and hit me in the ribs. Hurt so bad I was stunned, gasping, tears in my eyes. As I was struggling to get my eyes to focus, she said, pick me up mommy and I had to say, no, because you hurt me with your knee and I'm not going to hold you now. And I let her father deal with her for awhile.

God. I do not want to turn into one of those parents you see at the playground, murmuring softly to their hideously bratty offspring who's swinging wildly at them, oh dear, no, honey, you're hurting mommy, stop it, please [etc].

Don't get me wrong, I yell at my kid pretty regularly, but when her actions cause me physical pain I'm so upset, so emotionally wounded (even though I know intellectually that she doesn't understand that other people experience pain the same way she does, she's just too young to really get that), I'm at a loss. If I were a crier, I could weep and point at my injury, wailing, see what you did to mommy?! Which is a way to have a really fucked up kid, I know. Plus, ew.

So, this evening I did something different. Since I got that whack in the ribs I've noticed that my side still hurts whenever I carry the child up the stairs, so it's tended to be on my mind around bedtime. This evening, after our bath, stories and songs per every bedtime, SBG and I were snuggled in her bed and she wiggled around until her feet were in my face. And started to wave them around a bit.

And I took her feet, gently moved them away and said, keep your feet away from my face. And then, lowering my voice to a soft growl, I leaned in close, there in the dark, and said, I know you don't want to hurt me, but if you kick me in the face, you will be in more trouble than you can imagine. You don't even want to think about it. I do not like being kicked.

Then, after a little pause, I said softly, do you understand me? And she said yes. So I gave her a little kiss and she snuggled up next to me and went to sleep.


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