There. I've said it. I've put it out in the world. I honestly don't know whether I'm expecting vitriol, empathy or the "knock, knock" on the door of the socialservicesautomaticallygoingtotakeallyourchildrenawaypolice that I torture myself with every time I'm a bad parent.
I never thought I'd be writing this. I never thought I'd need to. And anyway so much other stuff has gone on this week I thought I'd be writing about that.
But I'm not. I'm writing about how I hit my daughter. And left a big red hand print, with white bits between the marks of my fingers, on her perfect, naked, 2 and a half year old bottom.
She bit me, you see. B has gone out for a pre-stag dinner (he can't go to the actual stag which is tomorrow) and so he was getting ready while I was in charge of the bath. I was trying to carry S into the bathroom and L wanted to be carried too. I can't really manage them both at once any more, and I told her that. So she bit me. Hard. On the shoulder. There's a red mark there too, and the white imprint of twenty tiny teeth.
Years ago, I taught for a while in a school in Nepal. Corporal punishment was the norm there and I was horrified. I swore to myself I'd never hit a child. But I did. Because they expected it, and when they discovered that I wouldn't hit them, they acted up. So I did. But it escalates. You start off doing it lightly and then they realise it doesn't hurt, so they do whatever it is they were doing again, and then you get angry and before you know it you've hit a child hard in anger. And they're still misbehaving. So I learned, quite quickly, that it doesn't work to hit a child.
Yet I have. And I did it consciously. She bit me, I yelled in shock and pain, I paused, and then I smacked her. I don't know that I thought it through, but in that pause I could have stopped myself and I didn't. I think, if I try and analyse it now, I wanted her to feel as shocked as I was.
And the really frightening thing? It worked. She cried, but B came downstairs and picked her up and she said she wanted to say sorry to Mummy. So she came into the bathroom where I was bathing A and S and she apologised. We talked about how biting was a naughty thing to do, and then she was lovely. We had the best bath- and bedtime we've had in weeks. No complaining, no whinging; lovely stories, lovely cuddles; lots of giggling and very proudly putting her own pjs on; "I love you Mummy".
I realise that the reason it worked, if indeed it did work and wasn't just a coincidence, was the shock: I suspect that she doesn't actually understand what happened. So there's no point in doing it again, even if I wanted to. Which I don't. I'm hoping and planning that in twenty years time I'll be able to say "I only hit you once, you were two and a half and you bit me."
But then I never hoped or planned to hit her in the first place. And yet, I don't feel that guilty about it either.
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