Friday, October 28, 2011

Through the eyes of a child

Two nights ago, Henry came into our room for the umpteenth time after being put to bed repeatedly.

Stories had been read, daddy had laid down with him for a while, he'd been given his nightly drink. But for some reason, little man just kept coming back in.

I don't know about you all, but we tend to get a little frustrated when this happens.

He would hop onto the end of our bed with his big ol' cheesy grin and just sit there and look at us.

"Henry get back in bed."


"Henry, it's time to go to sleep."

"But I want to sleep with you guys."

"No Henry."


Now as a disclaimer before I tell you what I said next, we rarely spank our kids. I don't like it, Jeff doesn't like it. But for some of the children, just the threat of a spanking works just as good. And then we cross our fingers that they won't call us on it, because most likely they will see that we got nothing but empty threats.

But I was tired. So I said, "Henry, get back in bed or I'm going to spank your bum!"

He looked at me for a second, and then said in the truest, devoid of manipulation, most innocent little boy voice,

"But I thought you loved me?"

And that's when the dagger sunk into my heart. Jeff and I just looked at each other. "Did you hear that?" Yes.

"I don't ever actually spank him. Why would he say that?" All said in hushed tones. Even though he was still sitting there staring at us.

I don't even remember what was said after that. Or how Henry got in bed finally. But I will never forget, as long as I live, "But I thought you loved me?"

And looking back at my own perceptions as a child, I know he was really trying to work out the obvious disparity between my frequent words of love, and  my threat of a spanked bum.

There is a quote that has stuck with me by Charles Dickens that says, “In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.” 

I love Charles Dickens anyway, but oh how perceptive he is of truths we sometimes don't see. Henry knew that being spanked for not going to bed was an injustice. And how could anyone who professed their love for him, then treat him unjustly? 

It's a good question to ask ourselves. When is spanking an outward showing of our love?  Seems to contradict doesn't it? 

And I'm not trying to start a spanking vs. no spanking debate. I have spanked my kids. Am I proud of it? No. But I have also been a frustrated, imperfect, harried, tired parent. And I've made mistakes, learned from them, and then made new ones.

I just knew, at the moment Henry said that to me, I would never spank, or threaten to spank him again. Anything I would have to gain by it, would be lost in the midst of a little boy who wondered if that means I don't love him. And that, is completely unacceptable. 

Will he always want to sleep with us, be with us, cuddle and kiss us? 
But if we're careful, he will always know we love him. 

1 comment:

  1. Said so perfectly!! I will always hear "but you've hurt my heart" said without any manipulation from the child.

    Just typing it feels like a kick in the stomach!


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