The night I slapped Elise on the cheek

Elise has been extremely trying. I’ve read that this is the time preschoolers start acting up and pushing boundaries. She’s been terribly “defiant”, “aggressive”, “rude” and “ill-behaved”, as adults would put it. I’ve been telling her to use her words to communicate her intention to the other party, but it falls on deaf ears. Monster Elise doesn’t show up all the time, but when she does, it’s as if she’s the Devil Incarnate.

The object of contention yesterday was an innocent laundry basket with a ladybug design that Elise upturned and wore over her head. Emmett wanted to have a turn and instead of using her words, she used her hands to signal her dissatisfaction. Picture two neighbourhood strays fighting. That’s similar to how the two fought, except their fingernails aren’t as sharp as claws.

I intervened, because it was a long day and I didn’t want to rush either or two kids to the emergency room in my pajamas. Removing the laundry basket and keeping it high up, I chided the both of them that if they didn’t know how to take turns, then nobody could play.

I dragged both of them to the bathroom and Elise was not having any of it. Unleashing all the pain techniques in her limited repertoire, she pinched, scratched, attempted to bite and even spat at me. My immediate reaction was to brandish a prompt smack on her cheek. Neither respectful nor classy and frowned upon in the entire Western parenting world.

More tears and yelling.

The second step involved Words of Hurt, where she threw out lines like “I don’t like friends. I don’t need friends. I don’t like you. I’ll beat you and then you’ll die. I don’t like Emmett!”.

These words don’t reach deep into my heart because 1. I know she doesn’t actually mean it and 2. I am stone cold inside. =| Restraining her arms by her side, I explained that she has to use her words to communicate her intentions and that if she uses violence, the other party will likely react violently. That’s why I don’t fancy corporal punishment as a method to correct “misbehavior”, even with explanations before and after. There’s just no logical reason to explain why they aren’t allowed to hit other people who misbehave.

The thing about young children is that they rarely bear grudges. She was laughing over a joke with Emmett soon after I released her from my long lecture.

A book that I’m currently reading at a snail’s pace talks about reframing the idea of discipline and focusing on the connection with the child rather than piling on consequences and negative reinforcements. That’s not to say that the children turn out to be spoiled brats.

Rather, it’s to learn how to consistently set limits and address the root cause that’s causing the behaviour (e.g. attention-seeking, over-tiredness etc.) instead of reacting to the “symptom” (e.g. throwing tantrums, slapping, hitting etc.). Respectful parenting is not permissive parenting. My style of parenting is far from respectful, and there’s a steep learning curve. Lots to learn.

Tonight, Elise cried herself to sleep over an ice-cream that she didn’t get to eat. Oh, to be a child, where not getting an ice-cream is that devastating.

Finding Peace

After receiving calls about Emmett’s biting for the past two days, I was bracing myself to hear how his next victim got attacked when it turned out to be another teacher instead. “Hello Elise’s mummy, Elise’s contact lens fell out, could you come down to put it back in? We don’t know how to put it back. Please come down now.”

Elise has been using her prosthetic eye for about 2.5 years now.

She is unable to see through that eye and it is to make her appear as if she has two eyes like everyone else. It isn’t immediately noticeable, but as the prosthetic eye is merely a cover, the pupil does not move when her natural eye does. It does not need to be removed daily, but it can be taken out for cleaning. Sometimes, when she rubs on her eye too hard, it may fall out, which is what happened today.

It brought my mind back to the first time it happened when I was alone with her. One moment, she was playing around, and the other moment, she was staring at me with an empty socket. I freaked out and immediately called the prosthetic doctor while alerting my closer friends on WhatsApp “OMG ELISE’S EYE JUST DROPPED OUT WHAT DO I DO”. I was ready to bring her to the hospital so that the doctor could insert it back for her (and me). The doctor encouraged me to try it myself first, instructing me over the phone.

Back then, she was much younger and she would not stay still because she was traumatised by her experience of being held down forcibly for tests, eye dressing changes and her wound was possibly tender and healing. It was like pinning down a squealing piglet destined for slaughter. My feelings were a mish-mash of guilt, fear, shock and pity. Eventually, I slot it in without going to the hospital.

Emotionally, it was saddening for us to come to terms with the fact. Up till now, I don’t think my husband has seen her eye socket yet.

Back to today. The same situation occurred and I saw how shocked her teachers were. They managed to cover Elise’s eye and move her to the office before other children took notice. Her form teacher told me that she couldn’t bear to look. It’s completely natural for them to have that response and I don’t blame them. After all, it’s not something they encounter often and most people can’t deal with seeing something like that. If you’re curious, her eye socket has healed and it is neither bloody or has dangling veins. It appears as pink hollow flesh.

I washed it under running water before popping it back in. Over the years, both of us has gotten used to it. Elise has observed her appearance in the mirror without her prosthetic eye (I advised her not to, she insisted) and her reaction was not one of fear or disgust. It seems that she understands and is living without noticeable problems. She can run, kick a ball and balance on beams.Β  However, at 3 going on 4 years old, people around her are less likely to make snark remarks about appearance. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.