My 13-month-old son popped another child in the face during play group. I could not believe my eyes. After blinking repeatedly, I apologized to the child and his mother. I, being a new, uptight, insecure mom, was bent all out of shape. The other child’s mom was completely chill and unbothered about what unfolded in front of us.
The fact of the matter is that my son may have thought he was just touching the child. His intentions weren’t malicious, but I couldn’t help but feeling like a failure. We don’t hit in our house, so how and why would my son hit? The answer is quite simple. He is exploring and testing boundaries. It’s my job to correct them. I know this. I chant this. I try to internalize this, yet I’m still perplexed.
I was spanked as a child. It’s not a tactic that I plan to use on my child. Hitting, kicking and spitting are major problems in my book. My son has been hit twice in the same play group. Usually the parents just tell the child to play nice and be careful. I don’t want to be that parent, yet I don’t know how to make my 13-month-old understand that no matter what his intentions, that hit was totally unacceptable. We have reached the point in our relationship where my “no-no” makes him want to repeat the action and watch my reaction. So I’m currently working on re-direction and distraction when he does something I don’t like in hopes of stopping the behavior. However, that doesn’t work with hitting. I won’t lie, my impulse was to tap his hand and say, “No. no.” I know that’s the easy way out and spanking cannot and will not be an option. I just don’t know how to communicate my displeasure to this baby. There’s nothing I can take away and no words in his vocabulary powerful enough to make him understand that he can’t do it.
I know I’m overthinking this entire situation, but it’s what I do. I don’t want him to be the hitter in daycare and I certainly don’t want to receive incident reports from teachers.
As I hemmed and hawed over this event, my friends totally made fun of me. My fellow Boy-parents, as we call ourselves, shared stories of head-butting, sword-fighting and busted eye sockets. So, I now know things will only get more interesting from here. My boy is introducing me to a world I’ve tried to avoid – a world where I can’t control a damn thing. I’m loving it!