What makes you punch your child in the face?

That title got your attention didn’t it! 🙂 Of course I didn’t actually mean to punch him in the face. The situation was very stressful, and I was seriously angry with him, but a mistimed, grab with my hand in an attempt to catch him, and a sideways fling  with his head while trying to escape, has resulted in a swollen eye. No doubt he will re-tell the story in such a way that it will be clear that I punched him in the eye!

So, what actually happened? Sigh…this afternoon kind of sucked…for him, for me, and probably for both of us. He has a swollen eye and I have a stiff and sore neck, so clearly things didn’t go well today!

After a day spent dusting some up high, and very dusty places in my house, I went to pick my son up from school. I had arranged a play date with his little girl friend, but he didn’t know about it yet, so I was eager to tell him the good news. I arrived at the school to see him coming down the stairs with the school counsellor. It is not unusual to find him being escorted out of class early by a teacher or Aide, but it is unusual for it to be the counsellor.

I picked up a bit of their conversation as they descended and it was a long standing, very problematic issue resurfacing. I am not going to go into specifics in my blog, but this is something that the school and our family has been working on, and it’s just not getting through to him for whatever reason. The counsellor spotted me and we went off to have a chat about what had happened and tell him yet again that it wasn’t OK. With that disappointment in my head and heart, we went to find the little friend and let her know that we were going to meet her Mummy in the car park.

Off we went. We followed the other child’s Mum to a park she had decided would be good. I had my son and the little girl with me, and she had her younger son. The two in the back seat of my car, decided that they absolutely hated the park we arrived at. Bloody children. Fortunately, I was able to convince them that the point of a play date was who you were playing with and not which park you were at! A lovely two and half hours passed by, with all the children playing nicely. Inevitably, the time came when I announced that we would have to leave in 5 minutes.

As expected, my son was very upset about this, and I began my well practiced emotion coaching.

Son “I’m not going home! I would rather die than go home! You can’t make me go, I’ll throw this at you!” (up a tree, peeling bark off in preparation for throwing at me)

Me “I know that you are upset about leaving because you were having a good time. It’s always really hard to leave when something is fun. We need to get dinner started, and it’s getting dark and late, so we are going now.”

Son “This is my heart right now.” grabs a piece of bark and tears it in half “broken”.

Me “Yes. I can see that you are heart broken about leaving. It’s hard… I know. We need to go though.”

Son – Gets down from the tree, and races over to a rickety fence surrounding a storm water drain. “I am going to jump in there so I die!”

Me – Getting a little anxious now, as we have a small audience, and the other Mum does not speak fluent English, so she’s not really aware of the difficulties he has. “Come on. You don’t need to talk like that. That’s really dangerous and you need to come away from that.” I then proceed to physically remove him from the danger.

He pretended to follow up towards the cars (this is a really really big park with sports grounds etc, and we were parked quite a way up the other end). He then ran off in the opposite direction at full speed towards the bushes and the river beyond. He can swim, so I wasn’t too worried about him falling in or anything, but it was getting dark, and a lot of people were about, walking, running, getting ready for soccer training and so on.

I called after him, using the ‘one, two, three’ count. It’s been quite a while since he actually let me get further than 1, but this time I got all the way to 3, and his new Lego plane was confiscated. He was meanwhile, getting further and further away, and people were starting to look around for his clearly inattentive mother. Here’s where I failed.

Caving in to the pressure of people making comments around me, and the Mum I was with getting stressed and not following my advice that we needed to keep walking towards the cars and he would then follow, I gave chase. He ran further. I was faster. I caught up with him and tried to grab his jumper, he ducked his head as my hand grabbed, and that’s how he ended up being punched in the eye!

I was so incredibly angry with him. I told him so. Lots. All the way home. I then sent him to his room and asked my husband to get his ‘patient’ hat on and please come home as I was too angry to deal with it right now. Thank goodness he did, and he even managed to calm us both down, and then he emotion coached the boy to sleep after dinner!

What a day. I am still quite tense, and feeling like a bit of a failure in general, with a very sore neck and shoulders, from stress I suppose. My lovely husband has procured me a finger bun and a cup of tea, and that is where I will now head…over to the lounge to relax.

Tomorrow is another day…

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