It’s a beautiful day. I decide to take Dylan to the park so he can burn off some energy. We run, we play, we laugh, and I try to get a video of his ridiculously amazing soccer skills as he kicks the ball. An hour passes and it’s time to head home for dinner. I ask Dylan if he’s hungry, if he wants some yum-yum, to which he nods. “Okay let’s go home and eat!” He bolts away and yells, “NO!” I tell him to say bye and thank you to the park, we’ll see ‘em later. I approach him and he drops to the ground in protest. I pick him up, he begins flinging his body, swinging his arms, and screams, “NO!” I tell him to relax, I understand he’s upset but there’s no hitting, no hitting. Dylan grabs a fist full of my hair and jerks it, I walk to the stroller with his back to my chest as to prevent any cheap shots to my face. He thrashes in the stroller and has a brief meltdown.
I take a deep breath and try not to get caught up in the drama of being slapped around, I take another deep breath and ignore Dylan’s screams. I take another deep breath and try not to take it personal. I take another deep breath and try not to look at the people looking at me because I can read faces all too well and I don’t want to know what they’re thinking. “It’s none of my business.” I tell myself. Deep breath.
We get home and I wash Dylan’s hands. I fix him a dinner plate, sit him in his high chair and begin giving him food. “Spoon, spoon,” Dylan requests.
“What do you say?”
“Okay mom’s going to get a spoon.”
I retrieve a spoon. Dinner time is a five minute success before he begins to get bored. He throws the spoon on the floor. “No throwing Dylan.” I give him the spoon which he uses for another minute before chucking it. “Mommy said no throwing. No more spoon.” Another meltdown ensues. I look at the clock, I’m officially on the bedtime countdown.
By the time Dylan is down for the night, I’m exhausted. I’ve been hit dozens of times, my face has been grabbed, my hair pulled, and I’ve been challenged by a defiant 1 year old more than I care to admit. Honestly, I feel powerless. I don’t want to be the parent who has no control over their child and I wonder if I’m on my way. This is my nightmare. Advice jumbles in my head like loose change: “Hit him back,” “give him a time out,” “remain calm,” “explain,” “be consistent.” I want to cash out all the two-cents and buy myself a massage. I proceed to google: “one year old hitting discipline” and read article after article on the “hitting stage” of development…all of which end with, “Learning not to hit takes time for any 1-year-old to master. Meanwhile, cultivate some patience, a thick skin, and your sense of humor.”
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry so I proceed to do both. I take a deep breath and channel my inner calm. I laugh at myself…just look at me. I’ve become a deep breathing sensation. I may have little to no control when the tantrums strike my face but check out my five-count huffy puffy ways! So I take another deep breath because hey, that's all I can do, apparently.