Before we became parents, Bunny and I used to sit around and talk about what life would be like with a kid. We’d discuss names, what gender we’d like to have, what physical attributes they would possess from either of us and “How are we going to discipline?”
“Oh hell,” I would say, “I always got spankings when I was a kid and its going to be the same for my kids!”
Bunny would vehemently disagree with me. While I was raised by a mother and father who disciplined me carefully and methodically with a wooden spoon and logic, Bunny was raised by a single parent whose spankings were nothing more than the result of an adult temper tantrum! I assured that I would follow my parents form of discipline down to perfection.
Only thing is… I hadn’t anticipated beauty in its highest form, deep blue eyes and the tiniest, most heart-crunching “Daddy… I love you” escaping the pouty pink lips of my first daughter:
After looking into the eyes of what I’d helped create… I began looking into other methods of discipline. Her hugs, kisses and seemingly never-ending love quickly smothered my pre-kid disposition that “tough love” was the route I wanted to take in making my first daughter mind her parents.
Now that she’s reached the age of two… she now understands how and when to push the limits of her mother and I’s patience. I read a book called, “1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline For Children 2-12” and it made surprisingly good sense to me. It taught discipline without ever having to lay a hand (or a wooden spoon) on the posterior of my child. It taught surprisingly easy tactics by managing your tone and your emotions. It coached using the “time-out” instead of spankings to convey to your kid: “Hey… I’m not joking here. I’m freakin’ serious!”
Bunny and I are using the program and it has been successful and we have never had to resort to pulling out the wooden spoon.
This doesn’t mean she’s entirely perfect. She is two… and with the territory comes some rebellion. Usually this involves pulling my hair or rearing back and hitting me in the face when she’s tired, she can’t communicate what she wants… or both. I’m always very calm, institute the rules I learned in the book and it always results in positive outcomes.
Despite its success… I deviated from my “time-out” tactic the other day and it wound up breaking my heart.
On this day, DLG and I had spent much of the afternoon at Wal-Mart hunting and gathering. Since we were down to a single walnut and some corn flakes in our pantry… it was a long trip. As the groceries piled up in the cart, DLG had to resort to walking next to me. It’s not as easy to operate this way because DLG has to “buy” everything:
“Daddy, I buy this!”
“No honey… we don’t need that peach. Can you go put it back please? Thank you!”
“Daddy, I buy this!”
“Hey… honey… we don’t need a gallon on vinegar right now. Can you go put it back please? Thank you!”
“Daddy, I buy this!”
“Oh you’re a silly gilly gumdrop… c’mon now… don’t be silly… we already have ‘The Funniest Of Benny Hill’ on DVD. C’mon… let’s put it back. Thank you! Good girl!”
In amongst all this work to corral her by myself I also successfully fed her lunch, navigated a poopy diaper and prevented the consumption of an ancient, dirty green bean that had been hangin’ out on the floor for God knows how long.
By the time I stumbled in the door to our kitchen with every single bag around either of my wrists (because men HAVE to carry EVERY bag in from the car)… I was exhausted. Exhausted yet feeling very accomplished. There was a time when, by myself, it took a good hour just to leave the house!! Never mind navigate everything I had just done!
Regardless of all that, it was DLG’s nap time and I went through our extremely ritualistic routine to get her laid down. The conclusion of our nap-time rituals led to DLG smacking me in the face because she was tired and wanted me to read her one more book.
I was still calm, collected and ready to place her into time-out. Although, perhaps out of “Wal-Mart” detox, I decided to give her a little taste of what she’d been dishing out.
Mere seconds after she’d struck me and with a stern look in my eye I quickly spanked her on the bare skin of her left thigh.
She looked at me with a look of complete and utter confusion… and then started cry GIANT CROCODILE TEARS!
I suddenly felt like a COMPLETE AND TOTAL HORSE’S ASS!! I’d dealt with DLG crying many times before this but never had I dealt with sobs that were a result of purposeful physical pain dealt to her by my hand! She cried and I gently helped bury her head in her blankie that draped across my shoulder.
I can’t begin to tell you in how many directions my heart was breaking listening to her cry on my shoulder. It’s unlike anything I’d ever felt in my lifetime. I knew that she’d recover… but would I? I reassured her over and over again how much I loved her while holding back MY tears!
Quite frankly, I might have just spanked the rebellion right out of her because she immediately fell asleep once I sheepishly laid her down for nap time.
I exited her room and immediately called my wife so she could reassure me I was a good father. All I got was her voice mail.
I guess I would have to get that reassurance later.
While I knew I had not struck her out of anger, I was completely thrown off by the emotion I felt! I had come so far from my non-negotiable “discipline by spanking” approach I had before I was a father to now when I could barely contain my emotions after one swift swat to my kids thigh!
I crawled into my happy place:
DLG’s “Princess Tent”: my safe-haven from the outside world
I felt like I was a horrible father. I felt like I was on the downward slope to prison. I felt like a massive douchebag. I felt like shit quite frankly.
Within 24 hours, these feelings deteriorated and I learned that people (even me) change. Before I was a father, I thought I could dole out a few swift spankings as my mother did when I was a kid. I was dreadfully wrong. My mother was able to see the long road ahead when I would be writing this blog post literally THANKING her for whipping my ass for some of the dumb crap I did (like throwing our family cat off the third floor balcony)!! Now… I’m not able to see past the tears streaming down my little ones cheeks.
Spanking isn’t for me. I was even raised in a family where spanking was done right i.e. not out of anger, with lessons learned and hugs and kisses after the swats.
I just can’t do it.
If you don’t agree with me… then I think you better go to time-out.