Note: no child was harmed in the making of today's post. The author of this site does not advocate or condone violence against children.
Viva is sick and horrible. There is no other word for it. She basically has behaved like a savage all weekend, barely using the toilet – she even pooped in her pants yesterday – forgetting or forgoing any concepts of manners or civilized interaction.
Sweet William nabbed tickets to a Lakers game tonight, so it was just me and the Horrible Wee One. It was tough. Everything was a battle. Where to sit on the couch? Gettysburg. What kind of cheese to eat? Waterloo.
By bedtime, I was worn down. The whole time I was getting her ready for bed, she was fighting with me – fighting about using the toilet (she didn’t want to, and was so mad about her body betraying her by peeing when placed on the toilet that she furiously flushed to cover the sound, yelling at me the whole while), fighting about washing her face and her hands, fighting about brushing her teeth, putting on her night-time diaper, putting her pajamas on. She told me all of a sudden she wanted to sleep in my bed, that she didn’t like her bed anymore. She insisted she was afraid of the dark. She told me there were pumpkins all over her room. She told me she needed her beach ball. She told me she needed Daddy. Then, since Daddy wasn’t there, she told me she needed Daddy toys, which translated into metal trains that she wanted to sleep with and I refused to let her sleep with. She told me to go away, and then she screamed at me because I had not read any stories to her yet. I told her stories were a privilege, not a right, and that if she acted mean and nasty, she could go to bed without them. She simmered down.
I read her two stories, told her good night, kissed her and told her I loved her, and tried to leave the room. She started yelling that she wanted me to tell her another story. I told her I would tell her another story in the morning, that it was late and she was sick and needed her rest. She started crying as soon as I closed the door, kept it up for a few minutes, and then started yelling that she needed to go pee pee. I went back in and told her she just went ten minutes ago and she did not need to go again. She insisted, so I took her to the bathroom, where she sat on the toilet for a minute or so and made a game of pulling her PJ pants up and down. I hustled her back out of the bathroom and back into bed.
A few minutes later, she started crying and yelling that she was scared. I went back into her room and spent 15-20 minutes lying on her bed with her, talking with her softly and having her sing a song I made up about how brave and strong and smart and beautiful she was, rubbing her back, helping her wind down. But she kept talking to me, so finally I said, “You know, I love lying here with you, but I think having me here is keeping you awake, and you need to sleep so your cold will get better, so I’m going to go.” Many protests, but I got out the door. A few minutes later, more hollering.
Something I never thought I would hear myself say, but I said it, with total exasperation: “What is the matter with you?”
“I want my Daddy toys,” she said.
“Viva,” I said, sternly. “It is time to sleep. It is not time to play. I am tired of all this hollering. If I have to come back in here, you are really gonna get it. Do you want a spanking?”
“Yes,” she said.
“YES?! You know what that means? Spanking means I hit you on the bum.* You want a spanking?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Why do you think you want a spanking?” I said, less mad now because I was amused and curious.
“I like to get hit on my bum.”
Now, that right there? That is going to send me straight to therapy, if nothing else does.
* This translates into one open-handed smack on her very well-cushioned, night-time-diapered bum. This does not mean that I pull out the belt or the hairbrush and beat her into submission. It is an action of last resort, not a regular thing that I do, and Viva knows it.
While it is certainly unusual for a kid to say she wants a spanking, it is not out of character for Viva. When she is acting up, she generally gets a warning to behave, followed with "Do you want a time out?" About half the time, she says yes. She will go and stand in the corner for two minutes, sometimes crying, sometimes not, and then come back out ready to face the world and be her sweet self again. I thought it was really bizarre the first time she said yes, but apparently she relishes the opportunity to get herself together.
I think if more of us would give ourselves a time out, life would run a lot more smoothly.
P.S. About the title: is Pat Benatar now in your head in an endless loop? Sorry about that.