This week at our house, we had one of our first drag out MONDO sister fights between my two daughters. Yes, they have fought over toys, they have tiff-ed over snacks, and argued over outfits; but this was the biggest one so far. So what brought it on you ask…? THE BOOK FAIR. Yes, my darling, loving children who are bestest of the bestest friends, took advantage of their pacifist mother while she collected the last of her tomatoes from the garden and my sweet little monkeys had a knock down brawl over a BOOK!
Nary did me as a child even dream of fighting over a book. A Barbie corvette, yes! But a literary bound piece of work? “No way, Jose (or Dora, as it were)!” Apparently, my youngest has some pent up jealously over who is getting what lately and since Munchkin #1 was proud to have a new shiny book and decided to flaunt it in front of Munchkin #2, who decided she was tired of being left out of all the fun (aka Kindergarten every day, recess, lots of new friends, and fun homework spent with Mom each night). So as the fairest princess of all, Snow White took a bite of her apple, which happened to resemble the back flank of her sister. A nice bloody chunk that would have made Stephanie Meyer proud was produced!
After coming inside and seeing the elder child crying while trying to read her new book between sobs, from behind closed doors, I asked what had caused the tears. Munchkin #2 tried to intercept the focus and drag me out of the room before I heard the story, but the words, “SHE BIT MY BACK!!!” penetrated the walls of our home, and perhaps the subdivision.
What the… I was picking tomatoes and enjoying the 70 degree weather. There was a breeze blowing through my hair and my kids are finally old enough I don’t have to watch them every second. I have a splendid life…
After focusing my attention on the hurt child and giving her love and medical treatment, I sent my other child to “timeout” in her room. I calmly informed her she needed to stay there without toys until punishment had been decided. That might be after I had a chance to talk to her father when he gets home. I also told her it would be pretty bad, so she needed to think about what she had done to her sister and how she would apologize to her until her fate had been decided.
Then I left the room thinking, “How can I have a 4 year old who would bite her sister?” Biting at FOUR? That is something a toddler would do. Not a preschooler!! I was soooooo mad at her I let her sit in her room MUCH longer than I normally would have because I couldn’t think of anything nice to say. And didn’t want to do anything to mess up the punishment.
When I finally got into her room, she had stripped off all of her clothes, and climbed into her sister’s bed and fell asleep. GRRRRREAT! Now she would be up all night. Perfect. Nice backfire on Mommy!
So why is it when our kids do something wrong, or something we don’t approve of, we blame ourselves? I had taught her repeatedly when she was a young toddler that biting was inappropriate, and she resolved the issue pretty quick. But this time, I couldn’t let it go. I was so mad at her behavior that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Seething angry at myself and her.
Then a phone call came the next morning. Basically a sucker punch right to the gut. A close friend of my family had her 4 year old son pass away the night before. While I was fretting about my 4 year old’s behavior, a beautiful boy who has been fighting his entire life to keep healthy and stay alive, joined all the other guardian angel children in heaven. (As a pediatric nurse, that’s how I like to think of them. It made my job easier that way.)
God sure can slam on the brakes when you are least expecting it. I knew that I needed to be consistent with my daughter’s punishment for biting, but how can you punish your children when you hear of a story like this. I was no longer mad. Just wanted to hold my kids and rock them until they wouldn’t let me anymore.
Yesterday, 24 hours later after the biting event, I overheard my youngest wrestling with her sister in a grand-tickle-fest. They stopped for a brief moment to catch their breath and she blurted out, “I’m sorry I bit you.” All was forgiven. BFF again.
In honor of my dear friend’s son, let’s make this the unofficial hug your children and tell them how special they are to you day. And remember…every time you give your child a hug, don’t be the first to let go. Let them release first. It makes a big difference!