To spank or not to spank, that is the question. I’ve had many discussions with other mamas about this over the years, and have heard many different views on the subject. In general, I don’t use spanking as a form of punishment. For the most part I try to talk things through calmly after everyone has had a chance to settle down. Children are human beings, and human beings are not perfect; we make mistakes, we have bad days, and we make bad choices, but it’s all part of the learning process.
There was one time, though, that I spanked my oldest daughter’s bum, and I am not sorry that I did. The story goes like this:
It was a beautiful summer day, and my husband was working late that night. I was pregnant out-to-here as I was expecting my third daughter later that month. After work, as I was driving to get my two older girls from daycare, I decided that I would surprise them with a picnic (McDonalds take-out) dinner by the lake followed by a trip to the park. I thought it was a perfect way to squeeze in some quality Mommy time with my two girls before the baby arrived and monopolized all of my time and attention. Also, I thought it would be a great way to keep the girls entertained with minimal effort on my part – as I had reached the stage of my pregnancy where pure exhaustion had set in and movement of any kind was difficult. It was a win-win situation…….or so I thought.
We ate our dinner and the girls played happily on the park equipment. As the time to leave approached, I gave them the routine 15, 10, and 5 minute warnings. I had learned at that point that the three-step warning system worked well with my girls when it came time to leaving the park. So when the last five minutes were over I walked confidently over to my oldest daughter, knowing that she would happily comply with my request to leave…..or so I thought.
It was at this point that my daughter began to throw the biggest temper tantrum that I have ever seen. She immediately started screaming at me that she didn’t want to leave, and when I stood my ground she started running away from me in the opposite direction of the park towards a heavily wooded area of the beach that is known to be relatively dangerous. I had to make a decision; do I let her go and assume that once she gets far enough away from me and into the scary wooded area she will make the right decision and return on her own? Or do I chase after her (in all my pregnant glory) and leave my two year old unattended at the beach? I decided that my two year old was in less danger and hoped that the other parents at the park who were witnessing this fine performance would keep their eyes on her for me, and I put my pregnant ass into high gear and began to chase her Shamu style (wearing work clothes and high heels) down the beach.
I finally caught up to her after running about 200 metres through the sand, and was not only mad, I was also feeling humiliated, but I still managed to stay relatively calm and began to try to speak to her, in my firm Mommy voice, and encourage her to make the right decision or else there would be consequences. Again, she refused to leave, and she tried to make another run for it. I managed to grab a hold of her wrist before she was out of my reach and then proceeded to drag her, pulling against me with her heels digging into the sand and screaming the whole way, back to the park where I scooped up my two year old in my other arm, and then continued to drag her across the street and through the parking lot. Once we reached my vehicle I opened the door and as she was climbing in I wound up and swatted her across the butt. She was shocked to say the least. I told her that her behaviour had been unacceptable and that I didn’t want to hear one word come out of her mouth for the rest of the night. When we got home I sent her immediately to her room and told her that she was not to come out until morning. I was mad. No….I was furious. The part that upset me the most (besides the fact that Shamu shouldn’t be running through the sand) was that she had put both herself and her sister in danger, and forced me to choose between them.
I hate fighting with my kids and I felt badly that I had spanked her. It certainly is not something that I would like to make a habit out of doing, but……boy, did she learn her lesson. We have never had another issue when it comes time to leaving the park (or anywhere for that matter). She remembers that day at the park and often times she will talk about her behaviour that day and say that she never wants to behave like that again, because things are much happier and easier when she is cooperating. I spanked my daughter’s bum. I don’t feel proud that I did, but I also don’t feel ashamed. I feel like in that particular situation, under those particular circumstances, a spanking was warranted. Did I let my anger get the best of me? Possibly. Could I have handled the situation differently? Yes. Should I waste time and energy punishing myself because of it? No. It was the exception, not the rule. It was certainly a learning experience for both of us.