I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope that Raphael may not grow up to be a serial killer. We went to lunch today with some friends and their kids. All together there were…I think about a million children. Do you know, I think Raphael only hit maybe TWO kids! AND one of those kids hit him first. The mother of the offending child apologized to me, mortified, when her son smacked Raphi in the face. But I was all smiles as I hauled my furious wee toddler away. “That’s ok,” I told her, “it happens.” But mostly I was just thrilled not to be the mom apologizing.
Raphael has been such a hitter. It’s not that he’s an angry or violent kid; he just deals with most situations by hitting. Or biting. So if a child pushes him on the playground (intentionally or not), he hits. If a kid yells and startles him, he hits. If a sweet little girl with a protective mother hovering nearby happens to have a toy he wants, he hits. And heaven help the child who actually does something TO Raphael. Let someone shove him or hit him or grab something of his, and he responds by hitting and biting and screaming until car alarms go off. He just doesn’t have much in the way of coping mechanisms.
So I’ve spent the last year of my life sitting sweet Raphael down in some time out or another. I’ve had to pin his little hands under mine as I strolled the aisles in the grocery store. He’s been put in his crib, sat on the stairs, sat on the couch. You name a spot in Denver; Raphael has done some time there. Often, as I was trotting him off to his solitary confinement, he would be chirping sweetly at me, “But Ah’m bein’ sowwy! Ah am!”
“I’m glad you’re being sorry,” I’d sigh. “But you. can’t. hit.” I don’t know how many times I’ve informed him of the astonishing late breaking news that it’s NOT OK TO HIT PEOPLE. “But why?” he responds, all innocence and wonder.
“Because it hurts. It’s not ok to hurt.”
“Because it’s not. You don’t like being hurt. Other people don’t want to be hurt either.”
“Because… I’ll put you in time out.”
But finally, the millions of messages seem to be sinking in. Tonight while he and Max were taking a bath, Max took away one of the tigers Raphael had been playing with. And Raphael DIDN’T hit him! He turned and yelled, “Hey! Dat’s my tiger! Gimme dat back!” Ok, he could have phrased that more nicely, but he did what I’ve been practically begging him to do. He used his words. The clouds parted and the angels sang.
And it’s not just the hitting issue. All these shards of social graces are beginning to appear. Offer him something to eat that doesn’t want and he’ll shake his head sadly, saying, “Oh no sank you. Nooo sank you.” I could do without the emphasis, but it’s so polite! He says please, although he usually uses it in an attempt to bludgeon me into agreeing with him. Our favorite Raphi quote around here currently comes from an interchange that went like this:
Raphi : Mama, can Ah hab [something I can’t remember]?
Me: No, honey.
M: What did I say?
M: That’s right.
R: Don’t do dat say dat nope!
But hey, he didn’t hit me.