to spank…or not

October 31, 2008

A few months ago, at one of the local restaurants, there was a little girl having a royal tantrum. She either didn’t want to eat, or didn’t want to sit down, quite possibly both. The girl must have been right around Diego’s age, maybe 2 or 3. I watched as the mother switfly spanked the girl, once, quickly on the behind. The little girl let out one more loud scream — and then that was that. She sat down, ate her meal, and nothing more came of it.

I’m not really sure if I stared in disgust or awe. I’d seen Diego have fits way worse than that girl, and I had never thought to spank him. Okay, maybe I’d thought it, but thinking and doing are totally different.  Still, something about that encounter softened my views on spankings.

I have to say I was lucky to not have suffered spankings growing up, although I can recall two distinct times my mom yanked a string of my hair to snap me out of my bratty-ness. And the truth is, it worked. I’m not sure, though, how I would have turned out if spankings were the norm. But I do know people who endured the belt, the wooden spoon, or even “la chancla” and turned out relatively well.

Carlos and I agreed early on that we would not spank our children. But we hadn’t prepared ourselves for the terror that is Diego. My high-energy, defiant, rebellious boy has proven more and more stubborn and head-strong than both Carlos and I combined. Even over simple stuff. Like, “Diego, it’s time to brush your teeth.”

“Nooo!!! Never!!!” Which can be followed with toys being thrown, or the occasional swat at us. We try to understand where he’s coming from. Sometimes it’s hunger, or thirst, or being over-tired. But mainly I think it’s the toddlerhood telling him he knows better and he can do what he wants. (He is almost 3, after all).

So I decided to experiment with the butt pat. I reserved it for only the truly criminal offenses. Like when I had just gotten the baby calm, almost to sleep, and Diego started screaming. As the baby startled, and started to wail, Diego screamed more. The baby flipped out. He was terrified. And here was Diego, screaming away, laughing even, despite the baby’s yells and my pleas for him to stop.

The first time I tried the spank I made him laugh. The next time I tried it was when he bit me in the thigh – hard – twice. I think we were fighting over the nap issue. That time I tried it a bit harder, and he said “Owwie!”

That broke my heart. So later that day I told him I was sorry. And that I would never do that again.

I did, though, one final time, over probably a combination of things. And this time, he said “No!” and hit me back.

So I’ve decided to give up on the spanking thing, and do what we did the other night when he flipped out: pillow fight! We got to slug it out, and made the baby laugh this time instead of cry.

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good luck, bad luck

October 9, 2008

So much news, so little time. The last few weeks feel like they can be gaged in good luck, bad luck terms. First there was the rejection from the Mid-Columbia Symphony I auditioned for. Bad luck. Going to the audition was tough enough. I really tried not to get my hopes up. I felt like “Lucy” from the “I Love Lucy” episode where she tries out for the part of dance girl on Ricky’s show, and all the other girls are younger, thinner, and way better dancers. The girls auditioning before me were younger, talented, and had obviously been practicing with a lot more heart (and time) than I could muster. I really knew I hadn’t spent as much time training as I should, but I wanted to go through with the audition anyway. I hope I didn’t come off like those singing wannabes on American Idol who draw the laughs but are completely ignorant of how much they truly suck.

I know I’m a good flute player, and hearing some recent flute performances have reminded me of how talented I am, but mainly of how talented I was. Or could have been. If I’d kept playing the last few years as much as I did in high school, I might be bad-ass. But I haven’t. Flute has been such an after-thought the last 10 years, that it’s a rarity I play it more than once a month.

Which led me to a big decision. I wanted to sell my flute. I really felt that some young person out there could benefit from having a good flute to kick off their flute-playing ambitions. And I sold it two weeks ago to a college student in Idaho. First year flute student, even tried out the flute in my living room.

It was rough. I got a good chunk of change for it, but now when I get that craving to whip out my flute, there’s nothing there for me to reach for. A coworker recently asked me if I was still selling it (he’d seen an ad I ran in our paper). And I said no. He said his wife has been learning, and is at a point where she could upgrade from her student flute to something more professional. And would you believe I felt jealousy? Like, wait, someone else is learning flute? I’m good at flute! Let me show you!

Anyway, I’ve decided that in a few years, when the boys are well into school, I am going to get a fancy new flute and maybe start teaching lessons. Maybe then I’ll have time to play every day again. Right now, it’s not going to happen.

So I guess the good luck with that is I got a bit of money to buy some nice things for myself and the family. We had a nice streak of good luck with money the last month. Good luck all around. Carlos finally got the money from a retirement account from his old job, and we paid off a ton of debt with it. We got paint so we can make our living room pretty. We got a (used) grill (that needs some parts). And then we both got a little bonus from work for winning journalism awards.

Now the bad luck. I hate UPS right now. A box with some nice clothes I ordered has somehow vanished. I think it got taken to the wrong house. Or it’s likely someone took it off the porch, but really really doubtful. For someone as anal as me, this type of mishap is devastating. I think I lost sleep over it. I”m trying to be humble though. I have so much more than other people. But I really, really wanted those clothes. Oh well.

Last week my grandmother died. Bad luck, although she was close to 100 and not the same abuelita. It was so painful to hear of her passing. It was also painful to see her health go these past few months, so she couldn’t walk or even talk. With her death, I am left without grandparents. But I get to fly down to LA on what would have been her 100th birthday, and see my entire family (all 200 of us) and we get to celebrate her life. That’s the way to go. My grandmother was a beautiful person. I’m glad the boys got to see her before she died. She really enjoyed them and it shows. In the end she even asked me who I was, and when I explained, she said, “oh yes, yes.”

la bisabuela, summer 2008

la bisabuela, summer 2008