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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