Last week, RR smacked me right in the face. Sometimes she gets a wild hair and it sparks in her eyes, flies down her arm, and her hand flies out and whap! Usually you can see it coming. There’s a certain sort of stop in time and, if you’re fast, you can catch her wrist before she catches you. It’s almost as if being three is too much for her little soul and sometimes it spills right out.
My reactions vary in response but they usually fall into the “don’t do that, please” arena and we both go our own ways. I imagine she feels about as chastised as I feel authoritative but since she’s not hitting anyone else, I figure it’s a draw. This is fine with my wife and I but it’s not just my wife and I anymore and so I’m walking the line between what I would do and what my parents think I should do*.
And so there we were, sitting in the frozen moment. RR’s hand is still in the air, her eyes are gleaming, my cheek pink and hot, my parents staring, waiting. RR is waiting, too. Can she do it again? Should she? What will happen? I saw her bicep tense, just a little, and I seized her out of her chair, slung her under my arm and outside we went.
What my parents think happened: Stern language. Getting right. Tears due to being talked to.
What actually happened: We sat on the front steps, her eyes welling with tears, chest starting to heave, and I asked her what she heard. Cars she said. Maybe, mama, a truck. We listened. I asked her what she could see. I pointed out the new stars, the pink in the sky. She showed me a bird on a wire. I asked her what she smelled: sky, trees, cold. I asked her what she felt and ran her fingers over the smooth iron railing. She smiled, trailing little fingertips over the black paint, stopping at the rough spots. I smiled back at her.
I said, please don’t hit me. She thought about it said, okay, stroked my face. She was sincere. We came back in to approving glances from my parents. Discipline, my parents thought – quiet but strict. Agreement, I thought. Peace. A better relationship with my daughter. Success.
Note: I recognize that I could ignore my parents completely but I’ll be honest, in every way that involves my mother, the best path is the one that makes me cry the least. I choose not to ignore them.