Thankful and Grateful: A Photo

Today’s prompt is to go through my phone’s photo album and find a picture that I like. Why am I grateful for this photo? What am I grateful for in this photo?

In this photo my son is tracing his name for a homework assignment. He was frustrated moments before this, and was throwing a bit of a fit. He’s left handed and I take it that most of the kids are not at daycare. The simple fact is, he draws better and writes better with his left. He has more control. He of course does not care. He is 4 after all.

Now I am grateful for the activity in this photo. I am sure that my mom helped me with my homework in elementary school. I however only remember one time that we did homework together. I was working on the math work and they had decided that algebra was a good thing for 4th graders. I just didn’t get it. My mom got so frustrated with me that she beat my butt with her left hand until it hurt so much she had to switch to the other hand to finish.

I don’t know what I did wrong to warrant that response. I remember the pain and confusion and the betrayal of it all because I wasn’t bad. I hadn’t done anything wrong, I just didn’t understand. Why was that wrong?

My son was not beat that day, or any day for not understanding homework. He is not beat until my hand throbs in pain. He has never been belted, switched or chair legged. He has never had to run and hide hoping the beast inside mommy will fall asleep soon and it will be safe to leave the hiding spot.

I do whoop, spank, physically discipline my son. I do. I lay out a host of punishments. I give him what I want done that he has failed to do. I explain it in a new way just in case he doesn’t understand. I tell him the consequences should he refuse. One consequence is a loss of something, the second time is usually a loss of privilege, the third time is pain in the form of three swats on the butt (not too hard but enough it’s a punishment-I don’t leave marks) and then to bed early.

NPR says I am mentally damaging my child. He will grow up violent and have bad self esteem.

It is possible.

However, my son will stubbornly, willfully disobey to see what will happen. He will choose to challenge authority. He will consciously choose to be told something three times, loose that item, loose that privilege just to see if he can get out of swatting. Will I give up? Am I afraid to discipline him? At one point I was. I very strongly do not want to be my mother.

I generally do not have to swat or pop him. At this point, getting to punishment 1 or 2 does the trick. He’s smart and he does 100% understand what he is doing. He no longer wants to test those boundaries. Sometimes he even giggles at the thought of a whooping (he is a mess).

I also understand that I have to evolve. Three swats on the butt aren’t going to cut it forever.

I don’t plan to escalate either, I will not be throwing my children into cabinets or beating them on the head with my fists.

I am thankful though that I understand all of this. That I know violence isn’t the only thing in my parental bag of tricks. I am thankful I am in my right mind and that when I discipline, and that I can separate my anger and explain what will happen if he continues. I believe there must be any varied consequences and that the child must understand each one.

So I am thankful for this picture because my son is NOT afraid of me. He does NOT fear for seemingly random acts of temper and violence. He is NOT abused. He DOES have choices, a great many.

He is also very lucky that I do constantly worry and read those darn articles. I read the comments. I beat myself up and wonder “Am I doing this right? What are other things I can try? How can I change?”

I know there are parents who don’t. I’d like to think my son is lucky because I wasn’t to be a good mom.

And I hope I am. In spite of the spankings. Which may not continue. It’s a work in progress.

This month I am answering gratitude prompts. You are welcome to join me!

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