So Little Patch is now 16 months old and starting to walk around and doing his own thing at home. He’s pretty good with playing by himself (he’s surrounded by me, patch and grandparents at all times, but we don’t really engage in games with him all the time) and if he wants our attention, he would come over and do something cute like pat our back or put his head on our legs.
But recently, he learned something new. Doing what we don’t want like touching or TV. Or turning knobs on our stereos. We try to be stern and let him know we don’t like it with words like ‘Don’t touch’ or ‘Too close to the TV’ (although since both his parents are blind bats, it’s inevitable that he would be donning his first pair of glasses soon). Well, tonight when daddy’s out, those same words somehow meant the opposite to him.
Maybe it’s his way of playing or getting my attention, but after 5 times of telling him not to touch the TV, he ran back and pushed the screen that it almost toppled over. Quite a douchey move. I was not happy. So I took the hand that pushed the TV, told him again, ‘Don’t push the TV, you’ll hurt yourself’. He didn’t get it. So I opened his palm and slapped it. Not too hard but it wasn’t gentle either. He knew I meant business.
He looked at me and stared at me hard. Then he turned away in a way that showed he didn’t want to look at me. So I just stared back wondering what he was feeling. Then he broke free of my grip and ran to the gate by the stairs. He just stared down the stairs and I knew that he was looking/waiting for daddy. I called his name and he looked at me but it wasn’t with love. He was upset at me. He had the look of holding back his tears because his lips were quivering. He turned back to continue staring down the stairs. Then I walked over and called his name again and he turned around and ran towards me crying. I felt relieved thinking he wanted me to comfort the pain that I caused. Except that he ran past me. And the pain I felt was more than his.
Just like his dad, I realized that he’s got pride. He didn’t want me to see him cry when I slapped his palm. He didn’t want to show fear or pain. Instead, he held it in as long as he could until he couldn’t hold it anymore.
By now, I’ve already forgotten what had happened 10 minutes before. Instead, I held him in my arms and kept kissing the palm and telling him ‘Mommy loves you’. He was fine and continued playing and trying to touch the TV. And I continued with my half-ass ‘Don’t touch’ warnings.
This is my first attempt at disciplining my son. After Patch got home, I told him what happened and he told me I shouldn’t have slapped his hand. He was probably right and I feel like I failed somehow because I did it the wrong way and it surely didn’t feel like Little Patch learned his lesson. Except to make me feel resented.
Finally, I am experiencing my first steps in parenting.