We don't spank. Mostly because we think it causes more problems than it solves, but also because we don't want to have that kind of relationship with our kids. But the alternatives, for now, seem like a lot more work. And today, I wanted to smack Addie. Really, really wanted to. For the four hundredth time this week.
Addie's fully potty trained now, thank God, but that doesn't mean our potty woes are over. She uses trips to the potty to exert her will: whether she'll use the upstairs potty or the downstairs one; whether the fan will be on or not; whether we'll help her, whether she'll wash her hands, how she'll wipe.
And that's the big one: wiping. See, I'm not sure how else to say this except, well, Addie poops A LOT. Sometimes four or five times a day (this may have something to do with the metric ton of fruit she consumes every day). And, she's only three, so she's kind of short, and not very dexterous, and can't always reach her behind very well. So we have arguments about whether or not she's adequately wiped. A lot. I'm a little insistent on her wiping well because not wiping well is gross but also because she has sensitive skin and can get a mean case of swamp ass if she's not clean. Our main argument at the moment is me wanting her to wipe her front first, then her bum, so that she doesn't get poop all over you-know-where. Her goal is to disagree with me at all times.
So this afternoon, she was pretty tired because it was before her nap (which she is miraculously taking again), and she was cranky and strong-willed. She had just pooped and was about to wipe her bum first. "Addie!" I cried. "Please, sweetie, wipe your vagina first! You don't want to get poop on it."
Evil look in toddler's eyes. Hand moves slowly but steadily to rear.
"Addie! I'm serious. Wipe your front first. I mean it."
Hand continues to move to rear.
"Addie! You're making me so upset. You have no idea."
So I grab her little hand with the wadded up toilet paper, now poop-smeared (sorry, but it was), and she and are having this arm wrestle over the t.p., me trying to get her to drop it into the bowl, her trying to wipe her front with it, and her winning slightly because she doesn't care if she gets poop on her and I do care, and so help me God I wanted to hit her hand. Hard.
I don't even remember how it ended. She started laughing, I think, which usually make me laugh, too, except today I had one shred of patience left and it ended up in the bowl with her poopy toilet paper. I somehow got her cleaned up and washed and off to bed, where she napped and then woke up much kinder. And I had a few small moments of grace to collect myself before I had to go in and get Nolie, who had been awakened by the fracas. But the memory of my wanting to hit her stuck with me.
You're probably thinking this is not a big deal--what would it matter if I swatted her a little? Well, maybe not very much. Except that the other big thing we're battling with Addie is hitting. She swings at us and bats at Nolie with toys and is all around being fairly pugilistic. She's not watched a movie in a few days because she keeps losing her privileges by bonking one of us on the head when she's angry. So hitting her when I'm angry would send the wrong message. And I don't want to lose my movie privileges, either. "We don't hit in our family," we keep saying. And we don't. But we want to.
This parenting stuff is hard. Three is a miserable age. Hilarious and exciting but miserable. God. I wish I could just freeze dry Nolie at the age she's at now, which is totally adorable. Her finger is permanently stuck up her nose, but other than that, she's a completely enjoyable child, and a good reminder of why I become a parent. In three months, the roles will no doubt be reversed, and I'll want to have Addie preserved. For now, though, she is pushing every last button, and hard. My girl.