Aug 27, 2012  •  In Aerin, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

Kicked in the Chest

Yesterday, I experienced one of the deepest disappointments in my experience of motherhood thus far.

Yesterday, Claire got physically violent toward her younger sister.

Aerin was trying to climb onto Claire’s chair — the seat she practically considers to be her throne — and Claire expectedly became upset. She then proceeded to KICK Aerin.

It wasn’t so bad. It was more of a slow shove with the foot than an actual kick, and I was right behind Aerin so she fell into my lap. Aerin seemed unfazed by the event and went about as if nothing had happened.

But while the kick/shove did not cause any physical harm to my younger daughter, I felt as if I had been kicked in the chest.

J and I immediately took action.

“No! You do not kick your sister! You never hit another person!”

We’re not entirely sure if the message went through to her. She certainly seemed downcast after the reprimand, but it was hard to tell if she was thinking about her wrongdoing, or if she was angry at us for defending Aerin.


Enjoying a day at the park with halmeh

Motherhood is full of “firsts.” The first tooth. The first steps. The first day of school.

What I hadn’t realized is that I should also brace myself for the unanticipated, and oftentimes unwanted, firsts as well. The first fever. The first knee scrape. The first tantrum.

And in this case, the first time I have been disappointed in my child.

I know that at 22 months of age, Claire cannot be fully held accountable for her actions and deeds. And as her mother, as her primary caretaker as well as the person she loves and looks up to the most, I can’t help but wonder if I had failed in some way.

These are all normal mommy experiences and feelings, to be sure. But man, if only kids came with instruction manuals…

6 Responses to “Kicked in the Chest”

  1. Molly P:

    I totally relate. I bawled the first time my daughter got so mad ( at 18 months) that she slapped me (because I was so mean as to make her wear her carseat belt). But I also realized that I hadn’t necessarily taught her some useful language. So we kicked into practice saying things like “I’m mad” or “I’m sad”, even just “ugh” and also asking her feeling “Are you MAD?” A few weeks later she turned to her 1 month old baby brother and said, “I’m really frusted with you!” (frustrated).

    • Zoe:

      That’s a good idea, Molly. Perhaps also teach Claire that if she wants Aerin to stop doing something, she should let you or J know instead of taking matters into her own hands?

  2. My daughter is a little younger than Claire (18 months) and we hang out with a lot of other similar aged babies because she’s really social and I dislike being at home too much. And if this is the first time Claire has been physically aggressive, she is a wonderbaby and doing really, really well.

    It’s totally normal for the babies to hit/kick/bite/claw each other (as in, deliberately trying to injure each other). That doesn’t mean it’s OK of course, but they will all do it (why you have to constantly watch them around other children) and it doesn’t mean anything at all is wrong with them when they do. In some ways it’s actually a good sign, because it means they are learning how to assert themselves and express their opinions (very important developmentally).

    Naturally Claire has to learn that certain kinds of behavior are unacceptable, but you shouldn’t feel disappointed in her for doing something that is so normal (and even healthy, in a sense). It’s like feeling disappointed in a young baby for sticking objects in their mouth. She actually sounds quite unaggressive.

  3. Mina:

    oh, that must have been hard to see! i do agree with grace’s comment. i know it’s still not a nice “first”, but from what i can tell listening to my friends about their kids, this behavior is normal and will recede when they start to learn to better use their words or other better methods of expressing themselves.

    • oh no! e doesn’t have a sibling yet, but i remember the first time another kid hit her and i felt like going apesh*t on the kid. as a mother, you react so viscerally. i don’t know what i would do if e had a sibling and hit her. i remember doing the same to my younger brother and my parents would reprimand me, i don’t remember feeling remorse but just that my brother seemed to getting more preferential treatment because he was younger. i guess it would have been better if they had said, “it’s not nice or it hurts the other person” vs. “you shouldn’t hit your brother because you’re the big sister and should know better.”

  4. Yebin:

    It’s okay…I was that mean older sister just 9 years ago when my brother came home from the hospital. I will not list the childish atrocities I committed to my defenseless baby bro, but honestly, it’s okay. That little baby has grown up to introduce me to my current boyfriend and I help him with anything! My mom always said it’s natural that siblings grow up biting and kicking and pinching each other. It’s totally fine, but just remind Claire that kicking others isn’t good. Don’t need to be too strict, but firm.

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