I’m bigger on discipline (raising my voice, taking toys away, etc.) than is my wife, but I’ve never been keen on using physical force. I’ve never ruled it out (see Miz Pink’s post “Beat Down” because I agree with her 95% on that post) but I don’t like it, and there are other people in the blogosphere who have spoken eloquently on the pitfalls and uses of corporal punishment (Blackgirlinmaine recently in her Spare the Rod… post, a more light-hearted one at this blog, and a more academic take here.)
Last night, I smacked my little girl across the thigh. Didn’t leave a mark, but it still left her crying for a long while.
Now, I know that many readers will roll their eyes and say “Big frickin’ whoop!” You didn’t smack her multiple times, you didn’t hit her across the face, you didn’t use a hanger or something, so what are you whining about? And I know objectively that I didn’t do it out of anger so much as surprise, because my hand flew a split second after my little girl unexpectedly chomped down on my left nipple.
But the fact is, my hand flew.
And it didn’t need to.
I should be able to take the pain of a bite from a three-year-old. I should be able to control my hand. I don’t hit my wife. Never have, never will (unless she gets homicidally psycho on my ass, which is highly unlikely). I don’t get into fights now and I never have in the past.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not some hippie milquetoast here. Call my wife, daughter or son a certain epithet that rhymes with “chigger” and I’ll put your face into the pavement. Sexually assault my daughter, at any age, and there will be a body buried in the woods shortly thereafter. Try to attack me physically, and I will work on the assumption that you mean to kill me and respond with appropriate force. I have a very forgiving temperament and a very, very slow and long fuse. But push me too far and you could really regret it.
But what exactly did smacking my daughter accomplish that couldn’t have been accomplished just as well by yelling or throwing out one of her DVDs? What galls me is that my mom only had to spank me twice during my whole childhood. I don’t like the thought that my hand might fly faster than my reason or common sense can stop it.
I don’t fear that I’ll become an abusive parent; that would just be silly logic. That’s not the kind of person I am.
But I don’t like that a girl who doesn’t have a chance against me bit me, and probably had no clue how much that would hurt me, and I hit her. Doesn’t matter where and it doesn’t matter how minor the hit; I hit her and I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry, honeybunch, I really am. And I apologize to Mrs. Blue as well, even though she’s already long over it (and so is the little girl).
Now I just have to get around to forgiving myself.
I started work on the second chapter of my blog novel Cleansed by Fire, and I had only intended to get a start on it and then finish it by next week for my usual weekly posting, but I couldn’t stop writing, and now I have a finished part 6 already ready to post. In fact, I did post it, right before this post. I know the last installment was just a couple days ago, but I couldn’t help myself. So, if you’re following my first foray into novel-length fiction or would like to start, scroll down my main page or, if you came to this post directly from somewhere else, click here for part six of my novel.