I'll start this by saying that I don't make a practice of judging other people's parenting choices.* Being a parent isn't easy, and the reality is that more often than not our choices as parents are more influenced upon what we learned from being parented than any amount of book-learned best-practice hype could drill into us. Our childhood is our foundation.
What we take away from our childhoods is a crapshoot. Siblings can grow up learning very different lessons from the same parenting experience. For instance, one child with alcoholic parents may grow up to drink moderately or avoid alcohol altogether, while another could end up struggling with the addiction as an adult. Yet another could hokey pokey between the two. As much as we swore as kids that we would never repeat our parents' "mistakes," they are ingrained in us and will attempt to at least undermine, if not control, who we are as adults.
::tangent for judgment asterisk*::
Believe me I have spent plenty of time judging other people's parenting. Me on my high horse and with a variety of childhood education and entry-level psychology courses in college, I traced every characteristic of mine that I deemed negative back to what my own parents did to screw me up. My six years as a teacher also provided an excess of opportunities to make tree-to-apple observations. When mister mrtl and I decided to start our family, I read the books and took the classes, putting that high horse on a circus highrope platform.
Then I became a parent.
Nothing humbled me -- nothing shut me up -- faster than becoming a parent, from seeing first-hand the tree-to-apple connections for which I was responsible.
We do our best. Sometimes we fuck up and things still work out, and sometimes we fuck up and the consequences are painful. The best we can do is to learn from the mistakes and apply those lessons as necessary.
::end tangent for judgment asterisk*::
That said, let's get on with the intended story here.
I don't hit my kids. I can't wrap my head around what I see as hypocrisy, doing something that I wouldn't ever want them to do.
::tangent on my childhood::
My parents weren't big spankers. I remember my mom threatening a wooden spoon a lot, but don't recall ever getting hit with it. More often we were sent to our rooms. Not a bad lot.
::end tangent on my childhood::
Still, in my weaker moments, I say I can relate to those who do spank. I have felt the frustration that takes my patience away. In those weaker moments, I think I understand the instant of satisfaction that may come from it.
I reached that point once with Jem, giving her a smack on her bottom. It wasn't satisfying at all. It was a disturbing, reflexive action that made my stomach turn. In retrospect I should have just let her scream in her room rather than try to address the situation while I was still angry.
I'm writing about this because I needed to remind myself how that felt today.
My patience is being tried. I had let my guard down; mister mrtl returns from his weeks-long trip today. Bug -- her ear tubes were removed and hearing just checked a couple weeks ago -- now has an ear infection and a ruptured ear drum. I'm worried about her.
And Jem. Jem left the pamphlet that came with her dentist care package in the middle of the hallway, crumpled up. I dared assume it was trash, putting it in the bathroom trash can and pushing it down into a soiled nighttime pullup, rendering it Most Definitely Trash. I was washing dishes when she made the discovery upstairs and started screaming like a banshee. You'd think I'd given her a puppy and then given it to that boy in the class that she doesn't like because he's so bad.
When I started feeling that weaker moment coming, I started writing this.
After a few minutes at the computer, Jem brought over a book she had just bought at her school's book fair, asking if I'd read it to her. I almost sent her away so I could get this out, but I'm glad I didn't. I put down the laptop, got her cuddled up in the chair next to me, and read about SpongeBob playing baseball. It cracked her up.
I love the sound of her laugh.