I don't hit my kid. I have been told that I talk to my son too much and don't beat him enough. My response is usually something like, "We're humans, so I prefer to talk. If I was a lion, I'd bite him on the neck and wrestle him or something, but fortunately, we have words and languages and such." I have also been told that I'm being directly disobedient to God for not hitting my child. My response to that is usually silence and a blank stare...because what's the point of arguing with that. I don't hit my kid....as a rule. Have I broken that rule, say, on two separate occasions, both involving me trying to get a two year old to sit still and quiet in church and both times having him hit and/or kick me out of frustration? Yes. Both times, I hit him back, on the back of the offending hand before dragging him screaming out of church and to the car. He was 2. Both times, I felt horrible about hitting him, because it was totally my fault. Hitting me was his way of saying, "Mom! What the hell?! I'm two! I got places to run around and dinosaur sounds to make. Get me out of here!" I heard him loud and clear. Until he's much older and has developed alittle lot more impulse control, I'll only take him to kid's Sunday School. That last time I hit him was the last time I took him into a church sanctuary. That last time I took him into a church sanctuary was also the last time I wanted to hit him. Until last Saturday.
My son, Zack, is a few weeks from celebrating his fourth birthday. He had spent a little over an hour outside playing with some neighborhood kids while my husband removed Christmas lights and decorations from our yard. They both came back inside when I was making lunch and talking on the phone with my sister. Zack ran straight from the front door into the kitchen and into me, hugging my legs, smelling like he had been playing outside. He asked if he could go back outside to play. I said no and that he would have his lunch, then a bath and then a nap. He didn't like that and insisted that he wasn't tired and that he really wanted to go outside. I told him that it wasn't going to happen and that the conversation was done and that I was on the phone and not to interrupt me again. He said ok. So I went back to prepping his lunch and talking on the phone. My husband was watching television in the family room across from where I was working in the kitchen. So when I heard the beep from the house alarm system indicating that a door had been opened and saw the flood of sunlight coming from the entryway behind me, I knew my son had opened the front door.
I don't know what I was in the middle of saying to my sister, but I do know that my body temperature fell, then rose again and a voice from someplace deep in my gut emerged sounding quite like one of the voices that girl had in The Exorcist and I said to her in like, breathy slow motion, "Hhhhold, Ooooown." I'm polite, even when I have gone slightly mad. I felt like I made it around the corner to the entry in one giant step. I knew when I turned the corner, he would be standing there looking at me. But nope. Our front door was wide open and my almost four year old was nowhere in my line of vision.
I was still holding my cell phone at my side. I marched to the front door as The Exorcist girl, each word emerging more intense than the one before it and each one in sync with my steps, "ZACK. GET. BACK. IN. HERE. RIGHT. NOW!" Y'all, that boy ran back into this house so fast. lol A few steps into the door, he froze in front of me and within seconds my face was within inches of his. He was holding back his tears, face twisted up like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas fighting to keep from making one sound, because he was horrified, poor thing. We were silent while I slammed the door with my free hand, still almost nose to nose with him. I asked him if he really just DECIDED to leave MY house and opened MY door and left MY house. He didn't answer--he knew better. I rattled off a bunch of commands telling him what "You do NOT..." do, and who better be touching that door knob, and who better be with him whenEVER anybody is opening this door and "DO YOU HEAR ME?!" and "SAY YES MAMA!" He managed a "yes mama", after which I rolled my eyes so hard I believed what the old folks say about them getting stuck. I turned my head, eyes still closed, and walked back into the kitchen. As his siren of tears and screams ensued, I apologized to my sister and rehashed everything she had just heard. If I hadn't been on the phone, I would have rehashed it aloud to myself like Clair Huxtable use to do after setting one of the Cosby kids straight.
The way he was screaming, my neighbors probably thought I had beat him. As far as he was concerned, I had. I didn't touch him, y'all. I didn't even snatch him up by the arm. Bad as I wanted to catch him with my elbow when he ran in here, I didn't. I let him run on in. I didn't touch him because I knew I wasn't going to touch him right. Y'all the way people are taking folks kids these days, and right now there is some dude trolling my area trying to get kids into his truck (according to the news) I do not play when it comes to my child being out of my sight. My first impulse was to get physical with him, but I needed him to hear me. I don't want to be that guy on the news talkin'bout I thought he was in the house. Yes, our neighborhood is safe, but isn't that what everybody thinks until they're on the news?
After he calmed down and The Exorcist girl was gone, we had a long talk about why his actions were wrong, and why I reacted the way I did. When he apologized to me for opening the door and told me that he didn't want to go live with another family (I asked him if that's what he wanted, because if I can't protect him, somebody might see him and want to take him home to live with them) and pleaded with me, poor thing, to "Please don't talk scary to me like that again, mommy, ok? You scared me and that hurt my feelings", I knew my message had resonated with him on a way deeper level than it would have if I had clotheslined him.
Some parents are like me, and spare the rod, but does that really mean they spoil the child?