The Hand That Flew

Well, I’m in a confessional mode this week; twice in two days. This time, though, my wife isn’t the person I’m feeling I might have let down. It’s my little girl.

I’m bigger on discipline (raising my voice, taking toys away, etc.) than is my wife, but I’ve never been keen on using physical force. I’ve never ruled it out (see Miz Pink’s post “Beat Down” because I agree with her 95% on that post) but I don’t like it, and there are other people in the blogosphere who have spoken eloquently on the pitfalls and uses of corporal punishment (Blackgirlinmaine recently in her Spare the Rod… post, a more light-hearted one at this blog, and a more academic take here.)

Last night, I smacked my little girl across the thigh. Didn’t leave a mark, but it still left her crying for a long while.

Now, I know that many readers will roll their eyes and say “Big frickin’ whoop!” You didn’t smack her multiple times, you didn’t hit her across the face, you didn’t use a hanger or something, so what are you whining about? And I know objectively that I didn’t do it out of anger so much as surprise, because my hand flew a split second after my little girl unexpectedly chomped down on my left nipple.

But the fact is, my hand flew.

And it didn’t need to.

I should be able to take the pain of a bite from a three-year-old. I should be able to control my hand. I don’t hit my wife. Never have, never will (unless she gets homicidally psycho on my ass, which is highly unlikely). I don’t get into fights now and I never have in the past.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not some hippie milquetoast here. Call my wife, daughter or son a certain epithet that rhymes with “chigger” and I’ll put your face into the pavement. Sexually assault my daughter, at any age, and there will be a body buried in the woods shortly thereafter. Try to attack me physically, and I will work on the assumption that you mean to kill me and respond with appropriate force. I have a very forgiving temperament and a very, very slow and long fuse. But push me too far and you could really regret it.

But what exactly did smacking my daughter accomplish that couldn’t have been accomplished just as well by yelling or throwing out one of her DVDs? What galls me is that my mom only had to spank me twice during my whole childhood. I don’t like the thought that my hand might fly faster than my reason or common sense can stop it.

I don’t fear that I’ll become an abusive parent; that would just be silly logic. That’s not the kind of person I am.

But I don’t like that a girl who doesn’t have a chance against me bit me, and probably had no clue how much that would hurt me, and I hit her. Doesn’t matter where and it doesn’t matter how minor the hit; I hit her and I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry, honeybunch, I really am. And I apologize to Mrs. Blue as well, even though she’s already long over it (and so is the little girl).

Now I just have to get around to forgiving myself.

Bonus Feature

I started work on the second chapter of my blog novel Cleansed by Fire, and I had only intended to get a start on it and then finish it by next week for my usual weekly posting, but I couldn’t stop writing, and now I have a finished part 6 already ready to post. In fact, I did post it, right before this post. I know the last installment was just a couple days ago, but I couldn’t help myself. So, if you’re following my first foray into novel-length fiction or would like to start, scroll down my main page or, if you came to this post directly from somewhere else, click here for part six of my novel.


4 Responses to “The Hand That Flew”

  1. July 19, 2008 at 11:38 am

    dont be too hard on yourslef there, ole blue….many a parent (as well as others) have “lashed out” in pain or surprise…it doesnt make you a bad parent or person for that matter. as long as your daughter knows you did it more out of surprise than any thing else, im sure she will not be scarred for life or anything. as you have said, she quickly forgave you and that is what is important. i, for one, believe in corporal punishment. i am a firm believer that the Bible speaks on this in some detail. i feel that spare the rod..spoil the child is quite literal in its meaning , speaking of the fact that if we do not “rule” with some physical authority we will spoil our children. and spoil in my opinion does not mean what most people think of when they use that word (like the child knows they will get what they want and what not). i believe it means that we will ruin them, destroy them , spoil them. like if food spoils….its no good…get what im saying???? now, growing up, i was badly abused in many ways including physically, so i am obviously not a big fan of excessive “hitting” , just for the sake of i’m the boss aorund here and don’t forget it kind of thing. but i do believe in a spanking when done correctly, out of love, not out of anger can actually benefit a child. a child must know that a parents “will” is stronger than theres and they must obey in order for them to be safe and happy, just as adults have to “obey” God’s will to be safe and receive blessing from God. That is what it is all about…..once again, not popular…but then like i said…ive never been very popular!! great stuff, i enjoy reading here! ps…the night before my son died he wrote four letters…one to me, one to my husband, one to president bush (said he was his favorite president and wanted a book about him lol), and one to my daughter. only the one to my husband is relative to this post…..he said to my husband…”thank you for spanking me when i needed it”….told him how much he loved him and what a great dad he was….he was 10!!

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    July 19, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I personally think there is a huge danger in reading the “spare the rod” kind of passages in the Bible and taking the “rod” part so literally. Many men have used biblical edicts for males as head of household and women being the “weaker vessel” to exert their physical power over wives.

    As parents, we must exert authority and there must be discipline, but I think there are way too many parents who go straight to spanking…or pretty quickly to it as an option…when there are other methods one could use first that don’t involve violence.

    We live in a world where there is all too much violence already. I’m simply not prepared to rely on it as a tool in my household. Might it need to be used someday? Perhaps. But that day, if it happens, will be a rare one indeed.

  3. July 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    My son is only 1, and I’ve used physical discipline on him. Not actual spanking or really even hitting him. I typically just pluck him in the stomach when he really crosses a line. For the most part I let him get away with stuff or just raise my voice a little bit, but every once in a while I pluck him to let him know things are serious.

    I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or bad thing yet.

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    July 22, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Big Man, you might find yourself in the same boat as me. Even though it still wasn’t often, my girl would get a quick swipe to the thigh or heavily armored bum (those cloth diapers really help ensure that even when Daddy’s judgement was questionable, the only thing I might hurt on the little girl would be her feelings) more often when she was around the year to year and a half mark than she does in more recent times. As the verbal skills get better, I really found it easier to resist the temptation to go physical, because raising my voice or issuing edicts that a toy might go away started to have impact. And even though I don’t feel good when I yell either (particularly if I get to the roaring lion stage), I feel way less guilty than when my hand came into play.

    Again, I wouldn’t deign to suggest that I know the “right” way to discpline, I just know that my feelings on the physical end are highly squeamish overall. Just feels wrong to me. My wife probably has harsher words on the topic (actually, I know she does), but I suspect she’s trying not to offend any of my readers who use corporal punishment in one form or another. Still, she might end up here commenting at some point.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


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