Posted by Duff

The Dervish hits me. A lot. What have I done to deserve this?

Probably, just about everything I do (or expect her to do) that doesn’t jive with her plan.

Happy Festivus. One day, when she can talk more, she will be happy to air her laundry list of grievances. In the meantime, she settles for the feats of strength. I’m not sure which I’d prefer, but I do know that I’m freckled with faded yellow, shorts-preventing bruises that have me wondering if I need an iron supplement.

Since I started getting a little concerned at the depth of her anger and the force behind her blows, I talked to her pediatrician. Twice. The first time I was told, “When she hits, put her down and walk away…my, she certainly is strong isn’t she?” (not yet a great walker at this point, The Dervish was scaling the office wall to obtain bandaids).

The second time was last week, at The Dervish’s two year well-visit. “Just ignore it and walk away.” I was told. Right. That has been working so well that I’m asking for advice. Again. And honestly, I can’t ignore it when she hits me in front of other people. Or when she smacks me upside the head so hard my eyes tear. I’m not going to stop forcibly taking her away from something, like the street, or a dog we don’t know, or anything breakable at an un-Dervish-proofed house just because she protests. Until she can set her own boundaries, I feel it would be negligent not to set them for her.

Minutes later, Dr. Quick Fix is having a doozy of a time getting The Dervish to lie down. But I decide to let her bask in the challenge. “Wow. She certainly is strong. WOW.” Take two: “My goodness. Look at those abs. Yikes.” I start to feel sorry for Dr. QF. I see sweat starting to bead up. So I help her. The Dervish takes it easy on Dr. QF, but lands a solid right to my shoulder. Per usual.

“We don’t hit.” I say calmly. I think that’s what I said? I know I looked her in the eye and said something along those lines. I’ve had to re-program my knee-jerk reaction, so it’s on autopilot now.

She only hits her parents, so we’ll take it. And we won’t hit her back, though we can feel how easy it would be to retaliate. I can’t say I won’t slip sometime, because that would be naive. I count a lot. I walk away a lot. She comes after me and tells me she’s sorry now. Looks a little scared before she beams, winningly. Not sorry enough to stay in time out, not sorry enough not to do it again. But she is starting to try to pretend to be sorry.

I am told real empathy and understanding the consequences of her actions are a few years off. For some, that day never comes. I know plenty of adults who can pretend to be sorry very well.  The Dervish had better not grow to be one of them. So, I need to up my game.

Dr. QF assures me she is normal. I will confess that I do worry that, bug stomper that she is (I didn’t teach her that), she could start moving up to bigger prey. But maybe she just doesn’t like bugs, because at present, she wants to hug anything fuzzy. Including carpet samples.

Obviously, if she can love shag carpet (no, it’s not in my house, it was at the flooring store), she is also incredibly sweet. Far more frequently than she lashes out, she’ll pat my back very gently and say “My mommy.” Or wash my arms while I’m giving her a bath. Or burrow snugly into me before we start reading Corduroy.

Of course she does. She knows where the food comes from.

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