Hi. Let me introduce myself. I am a toddler’s punching bag.
I’m also a scratching post and a kickboxing dummy. And sometimes I get pinched.
But it’s all a game to him. Rarely do his assaults come from an angry or frustrated place. It’s fun and he giggles even when I sternly look him in the eye, grab his flying foot, and tell him that kicking is not nice. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes he gets me good. Particularly first thing in the morning when my reflexes are dull; a heel jab in the stomach feels super before 7 AM… But he’s simply playing a little game of dodge the diaper, and it’s sort of funny unless we’re running late or the wind has been knocked out of me.
A while ago we started playing this game where I’d puff out my cheeks and let him deflate them with his hands. It would make a poot-like noise and he just loved it. Now he’s more aggressive and jabs at my cheeks when I least expect it, and sometimes adds a little crab pinch for flair. If I don’t see it coming I yelp (it hurts) and he laughs the deepest belly laugh he can muster. So I do a quick check for open wounds and try to keep a straight face as I discipline him. Boys will be boys (???)
Usually he’s just being silly and exerting a little bit of defiance. Actually, silly doesn’t come close to describing him now; his personality is sparking like a firecracker and it’s hilarious. But sometimes his shoves and pokes DO stem from grumpiness and are completely intentional. Those are the times when I don’t laugh back. Those are the nights he doesn’t get a graham cracker after dinner or goes to bed without a story or has to plop his butt in time out for a couple of minutes. Personally I think time out at his age is sort of a joke. But he is surprisingly compliant with it, screaming until we give him the green light to come out. I think he gets a little bit of practice at daycare…