I fucked up!
My 5 year old daughter Jules screamed. I popped in my contact and ran downstairs to see what was going on.
“He wants to touch me!” she exclaimed pointing to her younger brother Hudson.
I could immediately see why she was so afraid. He’d just finished eating his pancakes and it looked as if he’d been using the syrup as hand lotion.
“Did you tell him that?” I asked calmly.
Apparently she hadn’t because she then said, “Hudson I don’t want you to touch me with your sticky hands!” And off she went into the playroom.
Fine, so I won’t touch you, his shrug seemed to say.
I didn’t want him to touch me either! Or anything else in our house for that matter so I asked, “Can I wash your hands Hudson?”
“I don’t want you getting sticky syrup all over the house,” I explained.
“No,” he said again.
I had an idea!
“Remember when Curious George gets covered in syrup?” I started, refencing one of his favorite books, Curious George Makes Pancakes. Hudson nodded his head. He loves himself some Curioius George. As I recounted the story, I quietly reached for a wet towel on the counter.
“Then do you remember how he tries to wipe off all of the syrup with paper napkins….” I continued as I started to wiped his sticky hands.
By the time I finished recounting the story, his hands were clean.
Just as I stood up, he realized he’s been duped. His sneaky Mom had been seducing him into submission with a story while washing his hands. Well, he wasn’t going to take the disrespect lying down. In fact, being the two-year-old that he was, he freaked the fuck out. And I mean freaked the fuck out.
He screamed and cried. He lashed out at me. Through his tears and hyperventilating he managed to eek out, “Go away Mommy. You’re yucky!”
I instantly realized what I’d done. You can’t get a hand washing by this kid. And thank god. I want him in charge of his body. I don’t want him to be manipulated by the likes of me.
“You’re mad I washed your hands without asking,” I said to show him I totally got where he was coming from. “I’m sorry I did that.”
It didn’t matter how many times I told him that I understood and that I was sorry. He was really upset. He felt violated. I knew I had to let him cry. To get his feelings out.
But then it dawned on me, I could really show him how much I understood.
I grabbed his plate. I put another pancake on it and I poured syrup all over it. Generously.
Immediately he sat down at his table and padded his hands in the syrup. He got them good and sticky! Then he ate a couple of more bites and he was done.
Meanwhile, I got the step stool and placed it in front of the sink. I climbed up and started to wash my hands.
“Hudson, I’m using the foam soap,” I said, showing him the bubbles on my hands.
He shook his head. He was feeling better but he wasn’t ready to just come over and wash his hands.
So I washed my hands.
“I also have the blue dishwashing soap up here too,” I said holding it up.
That intrigued him. He walked over. He climbed up the steps and put his hands out for me to pour the blue soap on them. He turned on the water. Himself. And washed his hands. Himself. And he dried his hands. Himself.
He felt understood. He felt respected. And he felt clean.
What more could I ask for?
Lesson learned. I hope!