Thursday, June 28, 2012

With Spit On My Face And Love In My Heart

Yesterday, Mermaid Girl spit in my face.

Yep.

It happened because she got so angry at me for asking her to stop coloring so she could finish eating her breakfast. She was very hungry, hence her crankiness, but she was neglecting herself and her body's cues that she needed to eat.

In an attempt to give her access to both things, I brought over her oatmeal bowl so she could colour and eat at the same time {she is a Gemini after all!}. But even so, she kept neglecting to take bites of her food.

She had a couple of freak-out moments, crying and yelling about making a mistake on her artwork.

I explained to her several times what was happening: she was hungry, her body wasn't happy and she needed to stop colouring so she could eat.

She looked up at me. I saw her angry little face. And then splat. The spit landed right on my eye and on my nose. Actually, it went up my nose.

It was gross. It made me so angry. My knee jerk reaction was to retaliate back to her in some way.

But somehow I was able to hold that back and not react.

Instead I lifted her up from her chair, hugged her (which she just totally rejected) took her up to her room and told her I thought it was a good idea for both of us to have a much-needed cool-down moment. I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her to which she replied "No, you are the worst Mommy in the world! Go away!" To this I said, "I love you. I am going back downstairs and when you feel better call me or come find me."

Then I left.

And washed my face.

{Sidenot: No word of a lie, but within a few minutes of this incident I started sneezing like crazy. I knew it was because my first-line defences were taking action against the plethora of kiddo-germs I had just been exposed to. Ewww}

Anyways, after about 5 minutes Sharky Boy said he wanted to go and check on his sister. So up he went. I heard them talking and Mermaid Girl saying that she was mad at me. Sharky Boy asked why and she said, "Because Momeee is the worst Momeee in the world." Then a totally heart-melting moment occurred. I heard Sharky Boy say, "Momeee is not the worst Momeee in the world. She's the best Momeee in the world and she takes care of us...you know that? You know that Mermaid Girl?"

While this was happening I was also cooling down. But mostly I was trying to decide what should happen next.

In my eyes, spitting in someone's face is awful. It's probably one of the most aggressive things one person can do to another.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to stop thinking about it. All my thoughts were rooted in my personal perception of what this all meant and what I perceived I should do. Also, all the ways the angry, hurt part of my brain wanted me to deal with this situation involved punitive discipline. Something I don't believe in.

So, what to do?

I decided to let my heart lead the way.

Yeah, I know it sounds corny.

But honestly, for me it's the only way I am able to act in ways that I know I won't regret later.

I knew I had to deal with the incident somehow. I knew I had to teach {or should I say remind?} Mermaid Girl that this was unacceptable behaviour and that there are other ways to deal with big emotions that are not rude and hurtful.

Then I had an idea.

A flashback from a movie came to me.

I thought about The Secret Life of Bees. There is a scene where Lily's Nanny, Rosaleen, gets beat up by a group of men after she shows them she can spell her name.

Why I thought about this particular movie scene is beyond me. But I did. So I went with it.

It just so happened that we have that movie.

My plan was to show it to her and well, honestly I didn't know what I was going to say or do. But I knew it would come to me somehow. At least I hoped it would!

So I went into Mermaid Girl's room and asked her if she was ready to talk. She said "No."

I said, "That's fine, but I have something I want you to see."

I held her hand and she didn't resist. So we walked together back downstairs and she stood beside me while I found the movie.

I started playing it and I let them watch the part where the Father is yelling at the mother.

Their little faces were full of shocked and almost horrified expression.

I paved the way for the scene I really wanted them to see by showing them who the characters were and explaining a bit of the story {I left out the very sad and somewhat-gory details...I just told them enough to the get idea of what was going on}.

Then I found the scene I was looking for.

Rosaleen is surrounded by a group of men, taunting her and saying very mean things to her.

She just looks them in the face and writes her name on the ground with the liquid from her can of soda.

At this, one of the men pushes her and hits her in the face.

I could tell both Mermaid Girl and Sharky Boy did not like that.

I fast forwarded to the part where Rosaleen and Lily are together again, walking. Just so they would know in the end Rosaleen was OK.

I stopped the movie there.

And then I said, "See what happens when we use hitting and hurting to deal with our emotions? People get hurt. Those men were very angry, but they also were very, very mean. When people hit and hurt or when they spit at people, they are being very violent and aggressive...if you behave that way when you are a little kid, and you don't have someone to help you learn that's not OK, then you will be a grown up who does that too. Do you want to be a grown-up who is angry and mean and hits and hurts?"

They both said, "No!!!"

Sharky Boy said, "I want to be like Daddy and be nice and take care of my baby. You know, Daddy's like that Mommee...you know?"

I agreed.

Then Mermaid Girl looked at me and said, "I'm sorry I spit on you Momeee." And she practically threw herself into my arms.

And I caught her and hugged her back.

I am fairly confident she will never spit on my face, or anyone else's face, again.


P.S. This worked for me because well, my kiddos love T.V. Also, they respond well to lessons were they can visualize and relate to things that are happening. It's not enough for me to say this leads to that or the other. They need to actually see it. I know all this because I know my kiddos really well. And that's the benefit and joy of being a connected, responsive parent. You have the bond, you have the trust and you are able to customize your approach to your own personal relationship with your child(red).


Please join us all week, June 25-June30, 2012, as we explore the world of gentle, effective parenting. We have new posts each day by talented authors providing us with insight into why gentle parenting is worth your time and how to implement it on a daily basis. We are also giving away several parenting book and other goodies from our sponsors this week. Please stop by and enter to win! This year's beautiful motherhood artwork is by Patchwork Family Art. Visit the store to see all her work.

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