Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 3.05.46 PMI just ordered this book, along with its companion Feet Are Not for Kicking and another board book called Calm Down Time and Todd Parr’s The Feelings Book. I stopped short of ordering the matching Feelings flashcards. In our family, we often turn to books to solve problems. At least I do, I turn to books for almost everything.

Years ago when Zoe was facing her first ptosis surgery, we read about Curious George going to the hospital (he swallowed a puzzle piece and unsurprisingly wreaked havoc at the hospital but in the process he made a sick little girl named Betsy smile), Franklin the turtle going to the hospital (he broke part of his shell playing soccer I think), and an Usborne book about a little boy who needed tubes put in his ears. We read them all many times. Between her eyelids and her bladder, Zoe has become a medical expert and a pro at handling hospitals and doctors’ offices.

So Zeke has, on more than one occasion, head butted and hit us when he’s really mad, and on many more occasions, kicked us (especially when he doesn’t want to interrupt his preferred activities to get his diaper changed). From what I understand, this is typical but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a book called Heads are Not for Headbutting. Perhaps that’s one for us to write.

Most recently on Friday night I was chasing Zeke around the martial arts studio while Zoe had her classes, and everything was great until suddenly it wasn’t. Zeke and I had been contentedly sharing some pretzels, but then Zeke accidentally tore the bag open and was not inclined to share the pretzels with Zoe so I removed the pretzels from the situation. He didn’t appreciate this. Then he returned to the bathroom to wash his hands for a third or fourth time. I didn’t think this was necessary, and we needed to leave, so I removed him from the bathroom. He really didn’t appreciate that. So as I was dragging him out of the studio to the car, he was head butting and kicking and slapping and screaming and I was embarrassed and on my way to being enraged. Even though he’s two and even though I am much bigger than him, it is not pleasant to be hit or kicked or head butted. It hurts. He is a strong, solid little boy.

Later that night, during dinner, after he had eaten what he wanted off of his plate, he climbed down from his chair, walked over to me and climbed up onto my lap, as he often does. Instead of eating off my plate, which he always enjoys, he turned toward me and started smoothing my hair, covering my face with kisses (his version of kissing is putting his face close to yours and making a noise that is approximately “shh” but more slobbery. He never kisses unsolicited. And he was cradling my cheeks in his hands, like one’s little old granny might do. He has also never done this before. I could only surmise he was trying to apologize for his earlier outburst with this show of affection. I forgave him.

He is a sweet boy. People often say, “is he ever unhappy?” Well, yes, sometimes he gets very upset. And I’ve come to find out I have precious little leverage when he is freaking out. Our general approach to discipline is consequences rather than punishment, and what consequences can you give to a two-year-old? There’s nowhere he would sit still or be contained. There’s not much you can take away from him. He loves to watch tv, so you can refuse to let him watch tv if he requests it immediately after a tantrum, when you know he will understand why he isn’t getting what he wants.

I understand from people who have older children that they usually don’t have tantrums anymore once they’re in high school or college. Hopefully the outbursts fade even earlier. I’m confident that Zeke will grow out of it. But in the meantime, we will read our way through this behavior, and discuss other more positive uses for hands and feet (and heads).