Okay, one of the hard parts about parenting, and spoiler alert: it actually has nothing to do with my kids. Or anyone else’s kids, for that matter. It has to do with parents.
As kids grow older, the task of disciplining them eventually ends up on your to-do list. You have the responsibility of deciding the method of discipline that works best for your family; you have the right to change your mind, try new things, or hide in a corner and drink wine while your toddler climbs on the dining room table again. This is also when “Go ask your father/mother/fairy godmother” becomes an effective response to many, many toddler questions.
From the birth of your child, you have an instinctual need to protect them from the world. I want to shield my babies, keep them safe and warm in the house of love we have built. But I have learned that no matter what we teach inside these walls, the outside world has another agenda.
It will come as a surprise to no one that we are not a home of “corporal punishment.” We don’t believe in spanking; it doesn’t mean I look down on parents who do choose that method, it’s just not something we have ever for a single moment considered as an option in our home. My oldest son knows nothing of this type of discipline; he’s never seen it, never heard about it, and doesn’t even know what the word “spank” means. I don’t believe I’m overprotective, either. I believe that a two-year-old lacks the emotional maturity to witness and process something like that, and I’m not in the practice of exposing him to things before I believe he’s old enough to comprehend them.
But again, the damn world outside our front door has other things in mind.
And so, when Miles witnesses another parent spanking their child, I’m now called to answer a question that breaks my heart: “Mama, why is his mama hitting him?”
My head is full of responses that aren’t appropriate for his ears. And so, I scramble to find something that is an acceptable answer, but I’m at such a loss. Because this Mama doesn’t know why that little boy’s mama is hitting him.
While I didn’t change the subject, I didn’t exactly answer his question: “Honey, I see that. You know that your Mama and Daddy would never, ever do that. We love you very much and promise to always keep you safe.”
Some toddler questions cannot be answered.
This brought to realization the magnitude of what we will discuss with our children: broken hearts, war, the reason PETA exists, why people are mean, and of course, the biggie: DEATH. Is there some sort of secret parenting handbook for these topics? Because I’m not sure if my “Give Peace a Chance” answer will always work. I suppose I wasn’t entirely prepared for how quickly our conversations transition from things like how ice cream is made to why that butterfly isn’t moving. Thank you, parenting, for always keeping me on my toes.
One thing I know to be true is that we will continue raising our kids with the values, beliefs and faith we love so much. We will let them know that while the world can be mean, cruel and dangerous, inside our home you are safe and loved and accepted. And we will talk about our feelings, then go hug trees and bake cookies. Because every house of love should smell like brown sugar and chocolate chips.