I grew up during a time when parents hit their kids as a form of discipline. While I didn't like it, it is just what happened when we were bad. If we did something horrendous, it was expected that we got a spanking and/or grounded. It was a risk we took when we did something foolish.
I disliked being smacked enough to behave myself and can only really recall maybe three instances of my parents spanking/slapping me.
Then I grew up and became a mom and read things like, “Spanking your children makes them think that it’s ok for the big one to hit the little one.” I am going to call bullshit on this theory.
I am not a parent that hits, and neither is my husband. There have been very few occasions when a child of ours has gotten a smack on the behind. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times both my girls have been disciplined in that way COMBINED. And at least half of those times the choice was given to the naughty child, “No snack or a spanking?” Yes, you read that right. They’d rather have their 7 pm cosmic brownie and get a spanking.
So yesterday, when the normal sibling fight turned physical, I was horrified. There was kicking, smacking and pushing on both sides. Why on earth would they behave this way? This isn't how we act here and it’s just not acceptable. EVER. Both immediately starting crying and tattling on one another. Given that I’d already heard them bickering for the last hour, I had enough.
I went upstairs to find that instead of doing all the things they were supposed to be doing: brushing hair before bath, putting clean laundry away, doing homework, practicing flute, cleaning bedrooms and playroom, they had spent their time fighting.
Somehow, it wasn't the messy bedrooms or piles of laundry that set me off, it was the open toothpaste. We've had an issue with “someone” not closing the toothpaste and leaving it to ooze all over the counter and get all hard so it had to be thrown away. Last night the toothpaste was clogged up and someone had nicely decorated the vanity with toothpaste. It was literally everywhere.
That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
I asked who had brushed their teeth last. It was like I pushed some “resume fighting” button and it was GAME ON. Each screamed at me from their bedrooms as I filled the tub to give Spice a bath. I finally said, “If you are going to behave like this you don’t need toothpaste anyway” and I threw the toothpaste into the playroom.
Before you go calling DCYF on me, pay attention to the details… the toothpaste was not thrown AT anyone. The path was clear as I let that tube set sail. In fact, as this story progresses you will note that neither child even saw the toothpaste get tossed.
I bathe Spice. I get her out of the tub, pat her hair dry and tell her to get ready for bed. Since she didn't even bother to brush that tangled mess, she could brush it out herself. I wished them both a good night and told them to put themselves to bed.
That should have been the end, right?
No, I get into the kitchen as my phone beeps with a new text. It is a text from EN: “Sugar says to please give them their toothpaste back. They try to close it but it pops back open. LMAO, WTF is going on?” and it dawns on me that my child has ratted me out to her father.
And now the phone rings. EN is on the phone to “mediate” us through this crisis. I put the phone on the stairs and told them their father was on the line. Ten minutes later a crying Spice hands me the phone. I finally hung up after the Prince of Sweetness and Light says, “Are you mad at me too?”
A few minute later Sugar came down to ask whether I was coming up to put them to bed (read stories to Spice, rub both their backs, etc). I am not sure how she missed the memo?
That was the last I saw of them last night. Without a doubt, I didn't act appropriately. I should be the Princess of Sweetness and Light and handle their shenanigans with rainbows and sunshine. I should be able to just ask them politely to stop fighting and they should just stop. But in the real world, that just doesn't happen sometimes. They were angry, which caused me to get angry.
However, I didn't hit any kids (even with a rocket-launched tube of toothpaste), so I don’t know where they get the idea that being physical is ok.
And I don’t know how to get them to stop.