“My children aren’t excessively physical,” I explained to my daughter’s elementary school staff this entire year. “I mean, they’re kids and they scuffle, but they don’t hit, punch, or kick at home. They know that’s automatic time-out behavior. So I don’t know what’s up with Aden.”
I meant it, too. I really did. From the bottom of my heart.
(Thank you for not laughing where I can see you.)
So my immediate reaction tonight to being cold-cocked in the jaw by my 4-year-old was enormous relief that the elementary school staff wasn’t present to witness it.
Next reaction? Shock and utter disbelief.
Next reaction? Rhetorically questioning said 4-year-old.
“What was that, Cai?”
I accompanied my verbal brilliance with The Look. It’s The Look that my friend, Ann, a more experienced mama than I, and a southern belle to boot, calls The Hairy Eyeball.
Good mamas since the dawn of time have been using The Hairy Eyeball on their sweet babies. In fact, it’s more than likely named for a hard-working Neanderthal mom from back in the day. “Oh, you think my forehead’s big, do ya? Well, guess how it got this way? From beating my head on the cave wall ’cause of little Neanderthal children like you. That’s how. Want to say it again? Do it. Just say it one more time. I will ground you from here to eternity.” And then she raised just one bushy brow and focused a bulging eye on the child. And it was so powerful that that child used it on her child, and then that child used it on her child, and so on, and so on… until we arrive at today when I used it on my very own sweet baby.
“What was that, Cai?” Hairy, hairy eyeball.
The best part about rhetorically questioning children is that they don’t know what rhetorical means, so they feel compelled to answer questions that make no sense. So when I said, “What was that, Cai?,” Cai answered.
Cai: “That was a hug, Mommy.”
Me: Hairy, furry eyeball.
Cai: “A different kind of a hug, Mommy.”
Me: Hairy, furry, shaggy eyeball.
Cai: “A new hug, Mommy.”
Me: “Actually, Cai, that was an infraction, and it just earned you a time out.”
Cai: “No, Mommy! No, Mommy, no! That wasn’t a time out kind of a hug! And I don’t even know what a fraction is!”
Oh, he got his time out, alright, fractions or no fractions.
I used to think time outs were for child disciplinary purposes. But, honestly, that can’t be the main goal, what with the “one minute of time out per year of age” rule. My kid had a four-minute time out for slugging his mom in the face. He spent more time tonight deciding which episode of Phineas and Ferb to watch.
You know what time outs are really for? They’re so the mommy can collect herself and giggle in private. From the word “hug,” I had a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad time hanging onto my Hairy Eyeball. It was by the… well, by the hair of my eye… that I managed not to dissolve into laughter in front of the offender.
But even if the excruciating four minutes my child spent in a cushy chair in time out contemplating his “new kind of hug” did no good on a disciplinary level, I have one solace.
I have a terrifying Hairy Eyeball, and that sucker is going to haunt his dreams.