Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Musings #31: The Hurts We Hold On To (Yeah Write Non-Fiction)

IMG_20151215_122948The other day late in the night my six-year-old smacked her three-year old brother across the face so hard the imprint of her hand lingered for an hour even after an application of a blue ice bag.    I know she meant to hit him (she had hit him earlier in the morning and I had ruled that one roughhousing accidental), though I also know that she hadn’t intended to hit him that hard.  Nevertheless,  the anger in me boiled into a molten ball so dense I didn’t know what to do with it.    Hitting is not allowed in this house by anyone.    I won’t allow myself to do it because that little ball is always in there, though, thankfully dormant most of the time.  I know I cannot wield it without severe consequences.  Truth be told it scares the Bojangles out of me.     I watch the internal pressure gauges and so far the release valve is  possessed yelling, which I am aware is a hasty patch and not particularly productive.

That smack lingered in me longer than it lasted on my son’s face.   I yelled, I accused, and we all withheld affection from my daughter the whole night while she pleaded for forgiveness.    I am sure she felt every inch of the seriousness of the situation and the emotional crush of our collective disgust.     I punished the infraction in this horrible way, rather than finding a means to protect the one assaulted and guide the other to make amends.   I just didn’t have it in me in the moment.   I kept thinking about that little hot ball rolling in the pit of my chest, because it wasn’t just fueled by the present incident, but by past ones.

I remember being smacked so hard that hand print welts were left on my face or my arm.  I remember the last time it happened, too.   The sting.  The red heat.  How you can feel the marks of finger welts without having to look in the mirror.   I was older then and could walk away, but I didn’t have that privilege in my younger days.      That was how things were done then; just was.    I doubt most people even remember the things they were hit for.   Others look back on it through the fuzzy goggles of time and laugh having forgotten what it was really like to feel it.    I am not among those who laugh.   I remember vivid flashes in dreams sometimes, or in high-stress, emotional situations.   It’s unpleasant.   The vagueness of detail is filled with that little sphere of anger that I could easily feed and make it grow fat then unleash a fury that would shock anyone who knows me.    At the risk of revealing all of my geekdom at once — the Darkside tempts.

I understand why some people question why I refuse to employ or support spanking.  I simply will not allow or condone that sort of physical harm on anyone, especially a person smaller and weaker than myself (our culture says no to hitting pets, spouses, employees, bosses, and strangers for discipline — but children, the most vulnerable of all, aren’t on that list).    Some might even say that I am being over sensitive and that I am fine.    Yet, I know myself better than all, and I most definitely am not fine.   I live with it, but I’m troubled.  It is these charged moments that stay with you and come back to you when you least expect it and affect you in ways you can’t predict.

What will I do then?    What’s done has been done.   Although, in hindsight, I did not handle the situation productively, it at least has opened up a lesson to gnaw on for a while.   Wrongs were committed.   I was wrong.   That’s a massive pill to swallow and a rather big mess that I still haven’t quite figured out how to finish cleaning up.      I am concerned with how my daughter will remember this point in time.   What will she hold on to?   Perhaps, all will be overshadowed by the next sibling row and my worry will be for nothing.   Will it be the conversation we had and the amends we tried to make?  Or will it forever be the moment she felt like no one loved her any more?    Will my son remember the sting on his face, the wrath of his parents, or the tears of his sister?

I can only hope they can look back and know that I tried to  make it right.


15 comments on “Musings #31: The Hurts We Hold On To (Yeah Write Non-Fiction)

  1. spreadincrazysmiles
    December 28, 2015

    I can relate to this so much it’s unreal, I almost thought I wrote it. I however, do condone spanking. I was hit in the face often, I remember every reason why, and more so the sting. But every whoopin’ I got, was beyond deserved. The facial ones, not so much, but compared to what my father received as a child, I was most definitely spared. I can also understand his reasoning, and I’ll save that for a post someday. I forgive him, but if he forgives himself I’ll never know. I hope he does.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susanne
    December 28, 2015

    There is no condoning beating a child. Violence begets violence and I applaud you for your self-control. It’s hard to know how children will internalize these events. Why are some more resilient than others? If you think she might remember the incident as a moment when she wasn’t loved, consider what her thoughts might have been if she had been hit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. carlalouise89
    December 28, 2015

    I’m sure they will. I really, really am. I know I’m grateful to my parents – even if I wasn’t always so.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jhiabeys
    December 30, 2015

    What a great topic. I never knew I was capable of such anger until I had children; they are just able to push every single button in just the wrong way. We, too, have agreed to never hit them, but it’s definitely an exercise in self control sometimes. I did read something recently about the importance of reminding one’s children – out loud – that there will never be anything they can do to make a parent stop loving them. Children might not just know this, so it can be helpful to say it out loud to them after they’ve made a sad choice. I’ve been trying to take this to heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      December 30, 2015

      Hello! Thanks for reading and commenting. I am continually surprised as how many people struggle with self control especially when all those little buttons get pressed. Buttons you didn’t know you had! You are right, vocalizing that love is very important. What’s obvious to us, isn’t so to them! They have to learn all those social cues and the language and grow…and they are just very busy upgrading brains. 🙂 A quote I read once says that to be a better parent, we must parent the child within ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. searchingforsubstance
    December 30, 2015

    Great points that you make here. I have mixed feelings about it- I was definitely spanked as a kid and understand why I deserved it, but I know it also teaches kids that physical violence is acceptable in certain circumstances.

    I think as your daughter matures, one day she will understand your heart and your good intentions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      December 30, 2015

      I, agree, that a lot of people are mixed about it. Maybe it’s because so many don’t feel right about calling what their parents did wrong–even if it came from a place of good intentions. I don’t think, though, that we (as children) deserved to be hit (unless you attacked someone and the defended themselves). We deserved guidance, boundaries, and discipline without the physical harm. It was hard, for me at least, to let myself believe that I didn’t deserve it.


  6. Amy Bee
    December 31, 2015

    I think that experiencing first hand that “if you hit, people will be disgusted and ignore you” is probably a very powerful lesson and ultimately has a positive effect. We are social beings, we want inclusion and to immediately see that actions will be so looked down upon would get that message across quite quicker than just “punishment”. I understand that this idea doesn’t change your ball of fury or Darkside temptations, but maybe you weren’t as bad as you may have felt in the moment. Anyway, very nice essay, thanks for sharing it. I really like the whole “Darkside” sentence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      December 31, 2015

      Thank you for that. I think it concerns me because at the time, I enjoyed being a nasty biznatch. Feeling good about being mean is not good juju! Yikes! You are right that learning that some actions will push people away is not without its merit. It is a lot to process.


  7. Meg
    December 31, 2015

    Isn’t this observation so telling: “our culture says no to hitting pets, spouses, employees, bosses, and strangers for discipline — but children, the most vulnerable of all, aren’t on that list”? Thank you for sharing this very vulnerable moment and your path to remedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      December 31, 2015

      I appreciate the comment. It wasn’t an easy thing to write down. I’m still not sure how I feel about sharing it. It feels a lot t me like giving a presentation in my underwear 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Priceless Joy
    January 7, 2016

    This is an excellent post and I am glad that I read it. Unfortunately, hitting was allowed in my family and as a very young child I got the nightly belt spanking from my dad for being a “bad” kid during the day. I was too young to know the difference between bad and good or right or wrong for that matter. I never understood why I was getting the spanking only that I was. I grew up to have a severe depression disorder. Gee. I wonder why?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      January 8, 2016

      You never know how someone is going to react or respond to physical punishment. I don’t know why our culture takes the risk, when the alternatives productive without the potential of harm.


      • Priceless Joy
        January 8, 2016

        Everyone reacts differently to physical punishment and the results of it that show up later are different for everyone. There are alternatives that work much better than hitting.

        Liked by 1 person

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