Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hit parade

On rainy days, such as the ones that Massachusetts is currently experiencing, one of my favorite oh-my-Christ-I'm-desperate-to-get-out-of-the-house destinations is the local Barnes and Noble. There I can drink my Starbucks grande vanilla iced coffee in relative peace while Chicky Baby crawls around the children's section or plays with the elevated train set while sucking on a wooden animal that has been infected with every known bacteria and virus from the last 50 children who have been there. Tuesday was one such day. A monsoon was brewing and my little Chicky is teething, has a diaper rash that looks like a bad case of scabies (its not, btw), and she's decided that two naps a day are for wussies. I had two choices with what to do with a child such as mine, and since trash day isn't until tomorrow off we went to the bookstore.

There I was, coffee in one hand, overpriced magazine in another, unbuckling my child from her stroller with my two extra hands (What, you didn't sprout a couple extra sets of limbs when you were giving birth to your kids?) all ready to settle in for 45 minutes of caffeinated bliss... When Chicky Baby decides she doesn't want to crawl around the filthy floor. She doesn't feel like ripping the strategically placed merchandise off of the low shelves. Does she want to sit in my lap and read some books that we have no intention of buying? No. Does she want to play with the ebola-laced trains? No. Does she want Mama to stick her with pins? No. No. NO! She wants to have a Toddler Tantrum. Oh goodie. So with coffee in one hand, backpack over the other shoulder, magazine discarded in the "Young Adult" section, I start to strap Miss Pussface back into her stroller so we can get the hell out of Dodge before someone calls DSS on me for clearly beating my child - because why else would she be screaming bloody murder - when up walks another Mom and her gorgeous 20-month old son. And, like magic, my 12 month old toddler turns into a giggly 15 year old girl.

This doesn't bode well for the future, but it gives me a respite from the tantrum. We takes what we gets.

Leaving Chicky in her stroller to smile coyly at this stunning child with the most amazing rockstar hair I have ever seen I sit back down, pick up my coffee and start a conversation with the mom. We discuss the weather, how the other large bookstore in the area doesn't have a nice children's area like this one, the merits of Gymboree vs. The Little Gym (I've never been to either but according to my new best friend its the Little Gym all the way). I steal a glance at my child who is now clearly in a love induced coma. Should I take her out to play? Do I dare? Throwing caution to the wind I let her down and she scurried off to steal toys from her new senior prom date. Just imagine the pictures! Is it too early to order a boutonniere?

The incident leading up to what happened next is slightly hazy. I must have called her name, because Chicky turned around to look at me and when she did her tiny boyfriend decided to give her a love tap. WHACK! He smacked her right on the top of her head. Hard. I think you could hear the smack all the way over in the self help section. His mother jumped up as if shot out of a cannon to quickly put a stop to the abuse. And Chicky? She had a look on her face like "Eh. That was nothing."

So I said to the mom, who was mortified, "Eh. That was nothing. She's around other kids all the time... and you should see what our dogs do to her." The poor woman apologized and said how nice and understanding I was and how she was ready to separate our two young lovers (which is always a bad idea. Hadn't she ever read "Romeo and Juliet"?) and leave the store. I assured her that it was fine, they're babies and don't know any better. Sit. Stay. Chat with me awhile longer.

We talked for another 5 minutes but the magic was over. Chicky and I said our goodbyes and sighed over what might have been.

The incident troubled me on the ride home. I got the distinct impression that this had happened to that mother and child before. It seemed to me that she had been in a similar position where she was made to feel badly for her sons exuberant attention-getting skills and subsequently left in shame. Young toddlers hit. Its not usually out of anger or aggression. In this case the boy was just trying to get my daughter's attention. Being the sometimes too laid back mother that I am I wondered (for about a minute) if I should have been more concerned for my kid and run to her. Coddle her. But I grew up in a family whose favorite phrase was "Suck it up" and I don't see myself ever running to her defense in that type of situation. Besides, she hardly even noticed and she wasn't crying and there don't seem to be any lasting effects (except I caught her yesterday trying to scratch the boys name into the back of her hand). So, blog friends, I post this question to you:

As the mother of a young toddler... What would you have done in my position, or the other mother's? What would you do if your toddler was hit by another child or, vice versa, if your child was doing the hitting? Would you be offended or brush it off? Would you feel the need to completely remove your child from the area if he/she was the hitter or the one who was hit?

I'm very interested to hear what your thoughts are on this. But now I have to run. I think I hear Separate Ways coming from Chicky Baby's room. These little girls. They grow up so fast.


Cristina said...

Hmm. Interesting question. Well, I have a 10 month old and he HAS been hit by a slightly older child before (like maybe 14 months) and usually what happens is that the other mom apologizes to me for her child's hitting, tells her child that hitting isn't nice and to apologize (even though they can't really apologize) and then we let the kids go about playing again. If my baby is crying, I always console him a little(cuz I can't help it) but I don't remove him from the area or even pick him up necessarily.

Hitting happens all the time and I would say it's usually playful, but I think the key is to try to teach the child that hitting is not appropriate, but not to make it such a big deal that you don't let the kids play anymore.

Wow. That got long. Anyone still reading this? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm very laid back about it. Kids hit, kids shove, kids bite. Even when they are the best of friends. I remember watching Mayberry Mom's daughter and my older daughter shoving each other aside as they both tried to get through our sliding glass door at the same time, and they've been BFF since they were infants.

What matters to me is how the parents (or in a childcare setting, the teachers) handle it. It sounds like the exchange between you and this woman was ideal, but I think you're right that she was once bitten, twice shy.

Christina said...

Well, since I have a brute of a daughter, this is something we deal with a lot. When she accidentally hits or knocks down another kid, I make a point to apologize and tell her no. However, if the other mom isn't freaking out, and the other kid is OK, it's no big deal, really.

The same goes if another toddler hits Cordy. If she's not upset, then no harm no foul. While I appreciate a parent apologizing, it's not necessary.

Now, we once had an incident where an older child (5 or so) was picking on Cordy and it was bordering on abuse. His mom left him in the mall play area (grrr), so I had to step in, grab the kid and pull him off of Cordy.

In your situation, I would not have felt the need to remove my kid from the area. Toddler hitting happens - they're little cavemen.

And I'm jealous you could go into a bookstore. Cordy has a thing against bookstores. If we so much as go near one, she falls apart and has a tantrum.

Anonymous said...

As long as the parent says something to their kid - like "no hitting" and asks them to apologize (what I would have my daughter do if she hit someone), that's fine.

I know kids hit, bite, etc... but it doesn't fly with me when it goes unacknowledged. What I hate is when the parent just totally ignores it - to me, that's just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Good question...Cricket was body slammed many a time by my good friends daughter who was a month younger than him. My friend kept apologizing and I could care less (Cricket totally didn't mind) but I think if it were some stranger I agree that the parents should acknowledge. Not make it a huge deal but if Cricket did that I couldn't act like "ah, who cares your kid is fine." That's not my place.

But I'm one who at storytime totally wants to flee if Cricket does something..I just don't know how to handle it like when he bit a guys toe or ripped a pacifier out of a girls mouth. He was only 8 months at the time and to me it was no big deal but I was so worried about what those other people thought. But I just apologized and said it's not cool to bite or whatever. Like my 8 month old was listening but I felt it needed to be acknowledged.

Stacy said...

Ok first things first, I WORK at The Little Gym and it's WAY better than Gymboree! And second, if my daughter hit someone else I would make her apologize and then say sorry to the mom as well. I don't think I would get up and walk away unless it kept happening or she really whacked the kid and he/she was frightened. If the situation was the other way around, I would do the same thing you did, shrug my shoulders and say, "no biggie." As long as J wasn't hurt, who cares. Kids that age do things like that. It's totally normal and nothing to get your panties in a bunch over.

The Domesticator said...

Oh, Journey and iced vanilla Starbucks are my kind of woman!
OK, now, I would have reacted the same way you did. I am laid back, too and wouldn't have just rushed over. If she wasn't crying, then she was ok. The other mom handled it appropriately by addressing the behavior. I try not to interfere if my kids are handling it ok, and talk about it with them later. My middle one was the only one out of my three that hit other kids that she knew, not strangers (not that it was any better!) It was embarassing. I never let it slide..ever. Some moms were understanding and some were pissed off and I never saw them again...oh well, no great loss in my opinion. When another child hits mine, as long as the other parent is on it, ok. If it is a pattern of behavior and my kid is always the victim, I might avoid playdates with the kid.Toddlers sometimes hit. They learn and get past it.

Mom101 said...

Mine is a little young for this but has been handled a little aggressively by a few older toddlers. I tend to smile sheepishly, brush it off like you did, and just try and remove her from the situation. I'm not confrontational that way, but maybe I need to be.

PetiteMommy said...

If my toddler has been hit by another, I usually hope for an "I'm sorry" if they can talk or for the parent to atleast tell that child No and it was wrong. If my child was the one to hit, I would do the same. This is normal behavior for toddlers. However, as someone mentioned, if the toddler didnt stop or I kept seeing this pattern of behavior, I'd probably avoid them!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I agree with all you moms. As long as the other mom apologizes and stops her child from hitting again then what's the harm of letting the kids resume their playing. But this poor woman looked like she thought I was going to demand that she take her child away. I just couldn't fathom it. I can understand feeling horrible and embarrassed if your child hits and wanting to remove myself from the shame, but this incident seemed to go beyond that. Poor woman.

Carolyn S. said...

Fortunately my child tends to only hit her friends. In these scenarious I insist she apologies to them (Sowwgie) and gives them a hug. She is also temporarily removed from the situation (1 minute timeout) and then can go back to play.

When she is hit, she usually doesn't even notice the assault. So I let things be if the other mother or father is there. Is they are not, I go over and distract the pair with a new game.

Maybe it's the whole 'being raise with wolves (dogs)' thing that has our children oblivious to bumps and bruises.

kittenpie said...

I'm pretty much in with you all, that it should be addressed as not being okay behaviour, but if Chicky was really hurt, you would have known it and gone to comfort her. Pumpkinpie tends to take her lumps pretty well too, so I pause to see her reaction before deciding if I need to step in or not. If she is the agressor, then I always step in to make her apologize and explain why it's just not on.

Miguelita said...

I have twin 14 month old boys and I anticipate having to do plenty of 'splaining in the coming days about why we dont hit. I would have done exactly what you did and let the first one slide, maybe a second or third as long as my kids werent too damaged and the other kid wasnt much older. Kids hit, and my twins will soon be whacking each other, so they need to know how to cope.
This is my first visit. I like it here.

Jess Riley said...

Oh my goodness what a cute story!! I wish I could comment on the toddler situation (and I've been wishing moreso lately--is it a sign? ;), but the best I can do is say that when I am a parent, I'd like to think I'd be level-headed and rational about situations like this. You know, like everyone here. :)

ms blue said...

You handled the situation with the grace of a pro. I believe in not over reacting but acknowledging the bad behavior.

So where is Chicky Baby's wedding registry?

MrsFortune said...

Seriously, you handled it great! I mean, what's the use in freaking out over it? I think your dog training skills are coming out here. Honestly. And I'm sorry your future son-in-law is no longer, he seemed so promising.

Heather Bea said...

I agree with everyone, you handled the situation just right. At that age can you really get upset at toddlers? We go with the "if the baby is fine then it isn't a big deal" flow.

It is Journey, oh how I love them!

carrie said...

Toddlers hit, get used to it lady! Not you, the other one. I agree that acknowlegement and an apology are the best ways to deal with it, and then move on. It's been my experience that hitters usually grow out of this, so for all you mothers of whackers: there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Wouldn't it be funny if adults treated eachother like this? Hmm, maybe not.

Karen said...

Poor mom - the other one, I mean. I would've handled - have handled -the situation like you did. It needs to be acknowledged at this age, and then everyone can move on happily. That's how they learn. When they're older and still hitting, it's different. I think if my 4 y.o. and her friends are enagaged in any kind of physical confrontation it needs to handled with a more memorable consequences - time outs, leaving, etc.

Anonymous said...

I think you handled it perfectly. I think especially with toddlers, best not to make a big deal about it the first time it happens in a new situation. Certainly the hitter should be talked to, and the hittee(?) consoled if necessary. But especially if the kids seem not to be bothered by it all and are willing to play, the parents should just continue to be nonchalant. (We're like that with our kids when they get hurt, too -- we don't react much. But my mother instinctively gasps before seeing if the kids hurt, even if it's minor, and I think they tend to get more fired up about it then.)

Sandra said...

Ohh Chicky Baby's first crush...cute.

You handled it exactly as I would have. You didn't blow it out of proportion so that Chicky Baby would learn to do the same and you tried to put the mom at ease. They are toddlers. It is not like he bit her and drew blood.

My son's best friend is very physical and he isn't. She hits him and yanks him all the time. Some of the other mom's we know won't let their kids play with her. I do because through her he has learned to "use his words" and she has learned to hit less. I think kids need to be exposed to all sorts of other children and practice the skills they need.

Wishing you a very happy mother's day!!