Jack has taken to spitting his food. Not spitting it out because he doesn't like it, just spitting it, loudly and all over the place, to signal the end of a meal.
I do not like this. As you can see from my previous post, living with messes has become par for the course, but having food spewed on the carpet, not to mention my clothes, is just pushing it a little too far for me.
So the other day, when Jack spit pureed green beans all over me, I calmly paused, looked him in the eye, and said firmly "No. We don't spit food." I didn't raise my voice, I didn't make a mean face, I simply used a stern voice.
He went absolutely catatonic for ten or fifteen seconds. Wouldn't look at me, wouldn't accept another spoonful of food, just stared straight ahead. And then he burst out crying. Big, sloppy tears, a real wail. And my heart turned to water, I swear it. Of course I immediately swooped him out of his high chair and held him close, but I felt so terrible.
The truth is, I'm no softie. We did cry it out, and when I was a nanny I never took any crap and was not swayed by tears in the slightest. But seeing my baby cry, not because he had to stay in his crib and didn't want to, but because he knew Mommy was upset with him--seeing that just wrecked me. It just made me think how the things we do as parents have such an enormous effect on the lives of our children. Not that I want to sit and freak out about it, but the weight of that... Wow.
I believe that discipline is important. I think order and rules are necessary to give children a sense of control and security, and I have no problem enforcing this. But what scared me so much when Jack cried was the idea that he could feel rejected by me. Not disciplined, but rejected. And I can't handle that.
It worked though. Now all I have to say is "No," and he stops. But I don't know. It's just so hard to think you hold someone's sense of self worth, even before they have any concept of self, in the palm of your hand. It scares the crap out of me.