Okay. Anna’s been pointing out how crappy our blog is and gently pushing us all (Charlotte, me and herself) to get writing…so I am resisting my inner luddite to put a few words down (or is it up?)
I have been watching with interest the slapping/no slapping of children debate in New Zealand. I’ll nail my colours to the mast here and now and say that I am fervently anti-smacking for lots of reasons (maybe the topic for another blog entry?). I was (pleasantly) surprised when the New Zealand government chose not to go with the majority in their recent referendum on removing the ‘no smacking’ laws which were introduced there a few years ago. So, in a nutshell, the majority of those who voted wanted the law to be removed—so that smacking was no longer a criminal offence—and the government decided to ignore the majority and keep the law. I guess there’s another debate (another blog entry?) to be had about whether or not governments should behave in what could be seen as a paternalistic way.
It’s easy to be clear, definite and to take the moral high ground when all is going well, but yesterday I had one of those moments when my firmly held beliefs (about smacking and about myself) were put to the test. I was saying goodbye to some friends after a long walk and natter when my two-and-a-half year old boy quietly disappeared on me. I spotted his curly, golden locks bobbing along as he ran happily through a busy car park towards our car. As soon as he heard my anxious calls, he hid behind another car and waited. By the time I found him I was full of fear, anger and relief all at the same time. The look of defiance on his face was the thing that tipped me into the realms of wanting to hit him. But why? Hit him for not listening? Hit him for the terror his running off had caused me? Hit him to teach him a lesson? Hit him to relieve my own anger?
I didn’t hit him. I bundled him into the car, locked the doors, stood outside for a few minutes and breathed. All the while, he was inside the car screaming and thrashing around…I couldn’t help thinking that he was expressing my rage and fear for me! A few minutes later he calmed down…and some time after that I calmed down and I was able to tell him clearly, strongly and with love (and a slight ‘mum’s really upset’ edge to my voice) what was unsafe about what he’d just done and why I was cross.
Everything was calm and sweet after that…and I was left to think about what had happened. It really just reinforced why I am anti-smacking. All of the times I have felt close to smacking and nearly all of the smacking I have witnessed or heard about has been about relieving the feelings of the parent, not about what is in the best interests of the child in that moment.
Well, it looks like I’ve thought of at least two more blog entries to write, so hopefully this will be the first of many. Thanks to all the Barefoot supporters…hope you enjoy the Spring issue, which will be out in shops next week. Subscribers already have theirs…one of the benefits of subscribing!