Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Oh, I see. It's one of THOSE days.

Warning! Controversial parenting practices to follow. Read at your own risk and judge not lest you be judged. ;)

So, remember the other day when I hesitantly wrote that we're in a pretty peaceful time with Mr. Carson? Well, today I TAKE IT BACK! Someone slipped him a naughty pill when I wasn't looking, because this morning he was a nightmare. Most of the morning was fairly typical frustrating stuff--whining, arguing, refusal to do anything remotely close to what I asked, etc., but the event that took the cake was at the grocery store. I mean, of COURSE it was at the crowded, public grocery store at lunchtime!

I really should have learned my lesson by now: things are always worse when I'm in a hurry. We were on our way to lunch with my mom and my gparents, but I needed to stop and get something for the lunch and also something for dinner tonight at a friends house. I was all packed and ready to go, but we had to wait for Syd to wake up from her morning nap. I was a little rushed, and Carson can smell that a mile off like carnivore on fresh meat. Something catastrophic (sarcasm) happened while getting in the car, I don't remember what, and it led to a Grade A screaming fit before we had even left the cul-de-sac. The store I needed to stop at is just around the corner, and at this rate, I knew we wouldn't make it out of the car, let alone through the store, so I kindly asked if there was anything I could do to help him not be sad. He said turn around and get Minky. So, even though we were late, I turned around and got Minky as a goodwill gesture, hoping it would buy me a few moments of decent behavior at the store. It did not.

By the time we got to the store, he had taken off his socks and shoes and thrown them around the car, and not stopped whining about wanting to stay at home and that he was hungry. By the time we got INTO the store, he had screamed for all the world to hear that I was mean for not letting him ride in the "car" cart, which we don't do anymore, after the 37th time of getting one and him refusing to stay inside, but instead walk alongside me while I push one of those carts that takes the narrow grocery store corners like a semi-truck. The no-car-cart rule has been in place for several months, but OF COURSE, today it was an injustice the likes of which the world has never seen. By the time we got past the breezeway of the store, I had already had to nag him repeatedly that we weren't buying candy or treats, because he ran to the little "claw" vending game and was asking to play. (Have I ever let you? No. Why do you think that will change?)

By the time we got to the bananas, I had a 2 second heart-attack because he had disappeared, until I saw him at some candy display, reaching into some bulk candy. By the time we got to the bread aisle, I was completely out of my "Keep it together, Jen" pep talks, my reluctant-but-creative distracting preschool games like "Let's race!" or "Help me find what's on the list!", and I was completely out of patience. We got in line, and he ran down the nearest aisle to some Easter candy. I calmly brought him back, got down to his eye-level and said firmly, "You need to stay right by me, and you may NOT touch the candy, or you will have to sit in the cart."

OH, little man, you did NOT just do that!

Yes. He. Did.

He ran right back to where I had pulled him from and put one finger on a bag of blasted Cadburry Eggs and looked back at me. I walked over, grabbed his wrist, and pulled him back to the cart. Of COURSE, the child's seat was completely full of groceries, because Syd's in her carseat taking up the entire basket of the cart. (Sitting there quietly, watching the whole thing go down, by the way.) Holding tightly onto the wrist of a screaming, writhing, kicking child with my left hand, I started to load my stuff onto the conveyor belt with my right hand. All the people in all the lines were starting to watch. Then, I picked up that noisy, naughty little boy and forced his too-big legs into the toddler seat of the cart and buckled the belt. He screamed "YOU'RE HURTING ME! OW! OW! OW! THAT HURTS ME! STOP IT! STOP IT!", reached out to hit me, and then? He spit in my face. Oh, I am not making this up.

By this time, I'm sure you can imagine the scene, because we have ALL been nearby when something like this is happening. And I KNOW what people are thinking! That's what is so hard for me. They are all thinking that my child is out-of-control, I should GET him under control, and the best part is they are all thinking I should do this in a calm and loving manner without spanking him. FAT CHANCE! Sorry, what I mean is, I totally understand the choice not to spank. We rarely spank, but I have no problem doing it under total defiance like this. And once I give myself permission to stop the chitchat and do the deed, I experience an unexplainable calm. I took a deep breath (wiped the spittle from my cheek), and held his hand in my face. I said quietly, "That. Is unacceptable. You do NOT treat me that way. You are going to get a spanking when we get to the car."

I think he knew I was a little chicken to do it in public, because he continued the tirade of attempted kicking and hitting and screaming as I paid for my groceries and walked out, being stared at the whole time. My favorite part was when the clerk says over his yelling, "Do you want help out to your car?" I didn't know if she was joking or not. Get me OUT OF HERE, lady.

We got to the car, I loaded the couple bags of groceries, put Sydney in her seat, and judging onlookers or not, I pulled down his pants and gave him one swat on the cheek. It wasn't even very hard. He immediately melted in tears and his body melted into my lap. Yes, we were late, but we are firm that spanking always has to come with lots of physical loving afterwards. I just sat in the passenger seat and rocked him for a good 3-4 minutes. After a decent interlude, I asked him if he knew why he got a spanking. He said because he ran away. I said yes, but also because he was mean to me (with the hitting and the spitting? remember that?) and we don't treat each other that way in our family. He voluntarily said he was sorry. I forgave him. I told him I don't like spanking him and that I loved him very much. He let me hold him for a little bit longer.

Oh man, I wish I could say that was the first scene we've had like that in public, but it's not. (And I'm WAY more able to handle it when I'm not 5 and 8 months pregnant. But those are stories for another post.) And I wish it was the last, but I'm sure it's not. I wish I could say that his behavior was angelic for the rest of the day, but it wasn't. (It was better, though!) And for some reason, it feels cathartic to share my story with all of you, even if you would have done things differently. I do apologize to my friends (and sisters-in-law) who don't have kids yet. I know these kinds of stories should come with a warning label. But for everyone else, maybe the next time this happens to a distressed mother in line nearby, you'll give her a smile and an understanding nod, and say a little prayer for her!

25 comments:

Heidi said...

Oh man - what a story.

And you're right - we've all had those moments of being both the mother and the onlooker.

And for those people who think they'll never be in that situation? I hope they enjoy their time in denial for as long as possible because Heaven knows their turn will come sooner or later. And I really hope I'm there when it does :)

Sounds to me like you handled it beautifully.

Here's hoping that tomorrow is a better day!

Jo B. said...

When you told me you had an incident, you were not kidding! I think you are a wonderful Mom.

Lisa P said...

I have those same conversations with myself--so often in the toddler/pre-school days. "Once I give myself permission to stop the chitchat and do the deed, I experience an unexplainable calm." This is SO TRUE. And it does melt hearts when done well, at the right time, and not in anger. Kudos to you.

Trista & Chris said...

Oh my, what a handful! Praying for patience and strength for you. Sounds like you did an awesome job though! Supermom!

Diane Davis said...

oh friend! i do NOT envy your day. but what a great story! :)

The Craftypigs said...

Got your back sister.... remember, the Pi story and peeing in the square at Disney. Yep, got your back. Aint a mother in the world judging you. And if they are, screw 'em

Jess said...

Thank you...I needed a good dose of birth control.

Tibbslove said...

Jen, I applaud your honesty. You're a great mother.

Rory said...

Echoing everyone's words here. And man, that craftypig knows how to put it!!:) Love the support group that is blogworld.

The Brandt Clan said...

Jen, Jen, Jen... So sorry you had to go through that... I've had my share too! I still can't believe he spit- I know it's not funny, but I had to laugh, just out of sheer, "Are you serious?". You did just a great job- I would have just yelled and gone insane- way to keep your cool! Thanks for sharing and making us all realize everyone goes through it and we're not horrible moms!

Anonymous said...

I would echo the words of my fellow sister-in-law (Jess). Your post serve as excellent birth control. And just for the record I doubt I would have done anything differently. You are a great mom.
-Michelle -

Jewels said...

I loved your honest post. I think I would have done the same thing. I was just thinking last night that I am not sure how I will handle those types of situations and how it is really going to expose my lack of patience.

Diane Davis said...

i am now seeing that little spark of naughty in his eye on the top picture. :) be honest, you said you held his face after he spit... did you grab it a LITTLE harder than you needed to? Otherwise you might be a little too perfect, which would NOT surprise me in the slightest!

butters said...

Oh my dear friend. I almost have tears in my eyes reading your story. I've had my moments also, with on-lookers and all. You are such a great mama and Nate would have recieved a spanking for that too!!

I hope the week has gotten better. I will call you soon. I miss you!

Steph said...

Carson Michael!! You did NOT spit on your mother!!! I can't even imagine it!

Well, you KNOW I have your back. And I agree about that "calm" you feel once you know it's going to be dealt with and how. What is funny to me is that one day, our sweet little children will notice that "calm" and think to themselves, "OH CRAP."

Linz said...

Oh Jen. I have so been there. Don't underestimate the effect of Sydney watching this all go down. Wesley never did the fit thing, and I think it's because he saw Elliott getting busted for it. I love your honest posts, but did you have to say "cadbury eggs"? Now I have a craving!

eets said...

I love the humility of your being willing to share these oh-so-painful moments. Proud of you for doing what needed to be done, and one day, when C-dog is a well adjusted adult (ok, Trent is his dad...one day when C-dog is a mildly capable adult stuck in adolesence) you will be very happy you were courageous enough to be a strong parent. I always remind myself, I'm not raising the onlookers, I'm raising my son. They can look all they want but I'm making sure he learns the right life lessons.

nabz said...

Thank you Jen!!!!!! I seriously have always felt that i was the only person in this world who had experiences like this. it's sooo good to know i'm not alone, but on the other hand i am SUPER SORRY you have to deal with days like this too. I understand and yes, sometimes a good spank will help them out of thier mood if only for a while until you regain some sanity. you're a great mom jen!

Anonymous said...

Now that our kids are past their teens and turned our pretty nicely - despite us - I think I can say you did a pretty much perfect job! When your child passes a line, you have to discipline in a way that won't be easy (no matter what method you choose, but one that works) and then you feel guilty. If you don't feel guilty, well, that's a whole 'nuther issue! We would have done exactly the same thing -- Gerry did a few times when the issue warranted and then melted just like you did. Bravo Jen!!
Jan Lefebvre

Beth said...

Oh my word in honor! Sweet little Carson??? Lord have mercy on us as mothers! He definitely has me fooled, because he is always so sweet and mild when I see him!

Its the worst when something like that happens in public and you are met with UNsympathetic stares from others--nothing makes me angrier!

Tatum slapped me in the face the other day! It was kind of a half-hearted, test the waters slap, but still!!! We were both in shock and stared at each other for a couple of seconds...me with a look of "Oh no you di'nt" on my face, and her with a combo of "take that!" and "uh oh, what you gonna do now?"

You ARE an awesome mommy and I love hearing your stories!

Anonymous said...

FYI, just because I am a fun loving aunt doesn't mean I am untouchable. I have seen the meltdowns/temper tantrums and have been the victim of them. However, he has never spit or hit at me I'm not sure why but I won't argue with it. Lately I have found if I just call him poopy pants he stops going into his mood, he has some strong fear of becoming his uncle Chad. not that this will work for you. Also I have heard many nightmarish stories from parents and I don't know if you know this or not but I once made Landon N sit in time out for 2hrs, he only owed 5mins but he wouldn't be quite for his time to start.
-Tara

Sarah said...

Oh man.
I'm so sorry!
You are one AMAZING momma.
Carson is one lucky little boy.

Victoria said...

I just found your blog, and I have been in your shoes, only I believe it was a face slap from my baby. We all have in one form or another been there. You are such a good Mom for knowing when to spank, and having a good heart for showing him love after wards. Know that these days will pass, it may not seem like they will. But I am here to tell you it will. Your kids will eventually behave in the store. In fact I bet one day you will wish for these days back ( I know crazy right?) But I'm tell you there will come a day when you wish they were small enough to put in the seat of a cart. It really goes by quickly. You're doing a great job! Hugs from Seattle.

Victoria said...

I just found your blog, and I have been in your shoes, only I believe it was a face slap from my baby. We all have in one form or another been there. You are such a good Mom for knowing when to spank, and having a good heart for showing him love after wards. Know that these days will pass, it may not seem like they will. But I am here to tell you it will. Your kids will eventually behave in the store. In fact I bet one day you will wish for these days back ( I know crazy right?) But I'm tell you there will come a day when you wish they were small enough to put in the seat of a cart. It really goes by quickly. You're doing a great job! Hugs from Seattle.

Becca said...

I wrote a really long comment and it didn't go through haha! Anyways, my 17 month old has been doing the same thing (slapping me in the face!) I just dont know how to handle it, so I'm encouraged to know I'm not alone!