Fatherhood Day #960: Today I got popped
By Josephus Thompson III
I don’t know if you have ever been popped in the mouth by a 2-year-old, but today was my day.
My wife and I had been going back and forth about spanking versus not spanking, time-out and the Naughty Chair versus whoopings and all that jazz. As new parents trying to find the best way to parent, this is not an easy task. But today — TODAY! — she was off the chains: doing the most at every turn and not listening.
It was a lot. And to top it all off, today she was spitting. Ugh.
A spitting toddler is in no way, shape or form like a grown man spitting. Still, she was talking back, taunting me with her little toddler tongue as if to say, “What you going to do about it?” It wasn’t exactly cute.
I asked her to stop, but she kept pushing my buttons.
I asked her to stop again, and she didn’t. Kept right on spitting at me, lying flat on her back.
As a parent, you know what happens when you have to ask the third time . . .
Or maybe you don’t.
When I asked her to stop one more time? Still no chill. She spit again. Soooooo, I popped her — right in the mouth. Pop! Nothing hard, but direct and to-the-point so she knew play time was over.
She immediately stopped, sat up straight and looked around. Then the tears started. LOL.
“Next time I ask you to do something, you need to do it,” I said, “Daddy asked you three times to stop.”
Fast forward two days later. I’m changing her diaper. She is flat on her back, and she tells me, “No, Daddy. Stop.”
Of course, I proceed with the diaper change and tell her she needs to be still.
“No, Daddy. Stop,” she repeats.
I don’t. I’ve got the wipes out and am cleaning her up.
The third time, noticeably firmer than the first two times, she says, “Daddy, stop.”
I’ve just fastened the right side of the diaper when she pops me right in the mouth. Not hard — just enough to get my attention. I sat straight up.
I’ll be honest with you, my natural instinct was to pop her back, harder — but I restrained myself and held back the tear in my left eye. Where did she learn this from?
In that moment, I was staring at a reflection of myself. And in that moment, I chose love. I hugged her and told her I loved her and that “we don’t hit.”
In wanting better for ourselves and for our children, we have to do better. Be more creative. Be more loving. Be more patient. Be the change we want to see. And sometimes it takes getting popped in the mouth by a 2-year-old to remember that.
Lesson learned. At my house we don’t hit anymore. Naughty Chair and time-out it is . . . OH
Poet Josephus III is a new father and the Muse of Epic Poetry in this month’s O.Henry.