When Kayla was around 4 months old, our lives began to settle down. We decided to do the unthinkable, and got the dreaded minivan. (Which I'm proud to say, we still have today.) We were amazed that we had two beautiful, perfect girls. Adam mentioned that I had everything that I had ever wanted. He was right. Jordan played with her baby dolls, and loved singing and playing in her crib. Looking back at this time in our lives makes me smile.
Jordan began to show signs of jealousy towards Kayla. I knew this was to be expected, but I wasn't thrilled when she threw a toy at Kayla's head, or when she covered Kayla's face with a blanket. One morning she lightly stepped on Kayla's leg, watching to see what my reaction would be. You know that look- “yeah, I'm doing this in front of you. So what are you going to do about it, Mommy?” I sternly told her no, so she decided to pick up a toy and throw it across the room. After that I smacked her hand lightly and made her pick up the toy. She then proceeded to say to me, “Mommy not mad, Mommy happy. " in a cheery little voice.
Umm... no. This Mommy was definitely not happy with this behavior. Especially because she seemed unfazed by my reaction.
One afternoon I was suggesting to Adam that we may need to get the playpen out for Kayla, because Jordan has so many small toys. I noticed that she was listening, so I explained to her how Kayla could put a small toy in her mouth and it could make her sick. To help demonstrate this, I picked up a random small toy to show her. Later that night I couldn't believe what she did. I watched her hand that exact same small toy to Kayla. She put it into Kayla's tiny hand, while looking right at me with that “I know that I'm doing something wrong.” look. Damn. Again, I smacked her hand lightly and told her to get the toy back from Kayla, and to say that she was sorry. I'm sure that I probably said much more, but that was the gist of it.
Some of you who are anti-smacking, may be cringing when I say that I smacked her hand. The intention was certainly not to physically hurt her, or to humiliate her. It was to make the point that what she just did was wrong, and she should not do it again. Hurting, and possibly putting your baby sister in harm's way, it's just not allowed. When I raised my voice, (and I wasn't just pretending to be angry, I actually was angry) for some reason, it just didn't send that message to her. It appeared to have no impact. She didn't even flinch. I was a bit taken aback that at 23 months, my discipline tactics did nothing to deter her from repeating a behavior. Not only did it not deter her, but she usually went one step further the next time, like when she threw the toy.
And my parents smacked me as a child. I don't resent them. I don't fear them. I never did.
But I did, and still do, respect them. I knew that they were in charge and that I was to abide by their rules. They were my parents. When they hit me, as much as I hate to admit it now, I deserved it. Usually I either lied, or was disrespectful. Mostly I lied. I learned that you can only get away with lying so many times before getting caught. And today, I consider them to be two of my closest friends.
As the years went on, our battles with Jordan got more and more difficult. She was always able to raise the intensity to a level that I was not comfortable with. A level that I never expected to be pushed to, especially by a child. By my child. My instinct was to try to match her, so that I would have the upper hand. To prove that I was in control, and that I was parenting. But the thing is, as the years went on, I realized that I was not in control. And neither was Jordan. No one was.
That was a scary place to be.