A Small Victory

Papi & Kids Pool Time

I was reviewing some work emails when I hear that the kids are fighting over the cell phone. Paulo is saying that he just wants to look at something and Victoria is saying “no!” Then I hear a physical struggle over the phone and all of a sudden a really loud shriek.

I am quickly going down the stairs and decide that I am going to spank them both even though it has been months since I had done that. If nothing else I want to get all of the anger and frustration that has accumulated over the summer. As a teacher I spend my entire summer taking care of my kids and on this day I had reached my limit with them fighting over the cell phone. In my mind they need to understand that I will not tolerate this kind of behavior!

As I reach the scene of the argument I find Paulo twisting and turning in pain; Victoria is sitting nearby with a scared look on her face.

Paulo begins to tell me through his tears that Victoria has bitten him on his back. Now I need to decide how to respond to this moment. In a split second I consider my options. I can spank them but then I realize that for Paulo it would be unjustified since he has just been bitten, is in a ton of pain and still crying intensely. For Victoria, if I spank her, that would not teach her any lesson and only I would reap the benefit of releasing my anger onto her for committing such a cruel and horrible act of biting.

I keep my composure and grab Vicky’s hands and I stand her in front of Paulo in order to get a better look at his bite. Paulo is still tossing and turning on the floor from the pain, but even so, I lift up his shirt and we are able to see the bite marks that are bruising and almost drawing blood. My mind tells me “spank this little girl really good so that she learns not to bite anymore!” Vicky immediately begins to cry and to say “I am so sorry Paulito”.   Me, filled with anger but holding it inside, tell her that she is going to be in charge of cleaning his wound and taking care of his bite until Paulo feels better.

I bring an ice pack and tell Vicky to put it over the bite. Later we cut a leaf from our aloe plant and bandage the aloe vera over the bite. During this whole process Paulo and Vicky are crying, one from the pain and the other from causing it.

While observing how Vicky is caring for her brother I begin to reflect on the moment and I think that my response to the biting incident was a way better response than spanking them. My hope is that Victoria, even with her 5-year-old brain, begins to understand that our anger can cause people much pain and that when that happens we have the responsibility to try to heal that pain.

This is a proud parent moment for me. It is one of the first times that I felt like I was present enough to realize what I was about to do and instead of letting my unconscious rage respond to my children it was my awareness. I do want you to know that this is still a daily struggle for me, but these moments let me know that I am making progress.

Now that I have shared my proud parent moment I want to hear from all of you about your most recent proud parent moment where you handled a situation so well that you had to pat yourself on the back!  If you like this post and think it would be helpful to other parents hit a share button below to post on Facebook and/or Twitter.

In solidarity,

Paulo