I can’t remember a time when my mom actually followed through on this threat, yet I can almost feel the thwack, the blood rushing to my head as the air pressure inside my ears increases ten fold, the involuntary shudder and urge to punch back that comes with it. Gahhhh!
Aside from perhaps stepping on a plug, there are very few other things that can simultaneously deliver such a combination of pain and humiliation. So yeah, the memory of the feeling is as clear as day despite no recollection of ever actually having my ears boxed.
That is until recently.
When my daughter started doing it.
Holy lord, it’s infuriating. Perhaps it was passed down somehow, along with eye color and being able to raise one eyebrow. I’ve certainly never even thought of using it as a threat much less acting on it. Yet, this little menace, when things aren’t going quite the way she wants, will square her shoulders, look me in the eye, cock back both arms and let fly, wacking both my ears. Quite often my glasses end up wonky, adding yet more insult to injury. After the impact, I stand there as calmly as possible, sometimes shaking my head, sometimes counting to ten, sometimes shouting that she needs to cut it out, asking why on earth she thought that was the right thing to do. (Yes, I hate it and always feel immediately guilty when that happens but somedays….oh somedays….)
I know, I know. It’s a phase. Not every kid goes through it, but most have some sort of behaviour that we have to tolerate while trying to teach them that hitting, pinching, biting, etc. are wrong. This has not made it any easier. Okay, admittedly there is a bit of difference in knowing this is part of her development as a person and not that, despite my best efforts, she’s turned into some sort of demon child. While I wrack my brain, trying to think of ways to quell her frustration, explain situations, give her alternatives, she seems remarkably calm about the whole thing. So far she seems relatively unphased by my explanations that “hand are not for hitting” and the jury is still out whether time outs are even sinking in as a consequence for her actions yet. My only consolation is that she seems to somewhat grasp that hitting is wrong and reserves it for me and, on rare occasions, her Dad. Supposedly this is some show of trust but sometimes I swear I see a glint in her eye and think she’s taking advantage of an easy target, paying me back for not cuddling her enough as a newborn.
Seriously though, I’ll take this over her terrorizing other children or her key workers at nursery. So far so good.
So let’s say, by some magic of patience and perseverance, I find a way to teach her right from wrong. How long do I have before I can tell her to put her toys away without getting wacked up the side of my head? How long until my little girl stops throwing her food across the room to signal the end of dinner DESPITE being able to say all done for several months now? I’ve actually stopped believing most of the theories but some books and friends have been just helpful enough that I continue to hold out hope for the best.
Every day is a struggle but someone always has a prediction I cling to.
When she was born they told me six weeks, then it’s okay.
Then it was “it’s more like 8 weeks”
Then 6 months. “Oh, they are just lovely at 6 months,” I heard.
“Wait till they’re walking”
“Wait till they’re talking”
Now it’s “you think this is bad, wait till she’s 2.”
“No way, that’s nothing. Three is way worse than two.”
I saw a tweet where someone had said once you make it through three, four is a dream. This is what I’m holding on to. Four years old. That’s just around the corner.