My son hit another kid.
I’ve been waiting for this challenge for a while. I’ve been curious as to how I would react.
My brother has three little boys, all deeply rooted in Israeli-Chareidi society where boys communicate physically with one another before they get down to verbalization. (This is in no way a judgmental statement – typical Yerushalmi boys pride themselves on their strength.:)) My poor baby girl suffered at their loving hands until I limited visitation rights. I love those kids, I just didn’t know how to handle kid-on-kid violence. I spent a lot of time talking about discipline and how my daughter was non-violent because of how we raise her even though it was really only because that’s her nature. But there was definitely righteous indignation in my voice when I protested against boyhood behavior.
Now my son got old enough to hit.
What a milestone.
He’s strong and has the cutest smile on his face when he pummels his closed fists (!) into tiny heads and stomaches.
Oh what a beautiful boy.
Anyway – so he hit another kid and it was completely unprovoked and I was sitting right there so I couldn’t try to make excuses for him.
I sighed and began the grueling process of disciplining my son, the joker, without cracking a smile. Believe me, it’s hard.
First I told him he can’t hit. Then I told him to give the other child a hug.
He shrugged. My baby shrugged. At me.
So I got more serious, and kind of felt it this time, and repeated myself.
And he shrugged.
My thought process was something like “Ok, this isn’t working, he’s just a baby – shrug – wait? shrug? Did I teach him that? No way! I gotta change this pattern now before he shrugs his way through childhood and adolescence.”
I got him to look at me, repeated my mantra of “No sweetie, we do NOT hit! You must go give that little boy a hug!”
This time he pouted and almost started crying.
I got down to his level, repeated myself and asked if he wanted me to come with him.
“Ok good – communication. Not like he’ll really hug the kid, he probably has no idea what’s happening, this is pointless….wait! What? He’s hugging him! He’s smiling! Wow!”
And then he came to me for some Imma loving and I beamed and he beamed…..
I got a round of applause, literally, from the woman I was hanging out with who happens to be my first friend here and also happens to have a degree in early childhood development. She told me it was great parenting and gave me props.
I thought about it….and realized something profound.
The applause goes to someone else.
My wonderful, amazing mother who, despite all the outside horrors that plagued her children, still managed to instill in me the art of mothering with a full heart, soul and sound mind.
Because when people comment on how I speak to my children with respect and honesty and when I see how I actually play with my children and am an integral part of their education I remember my childhood and realize that, like the starstruck child I always was, I am mimicking my hero and raising my children just as she raised me.
And I am eternally grateful.