“I love you Mama very much!” Alyssa was repeating over and over again as we dashed into our very first ballet class. She was super excited to join the rest of the little ballerinas. I was also excited to join the rest of the parents, watching their little girls dance. She was two and four months at the time, the youngest little girl in the room, and the most enthusiastic little dancer. All the parents noticed and had complimented me. I was such a proud mom, thinking how special my little girl is.
Unfortunately a few weeks later, after about five minutes of dancing, my enthusiastic little dancer, would lose interest completely. Suddenly Alyssa stopped paying attention to the class or the teacher and would run in circles instead. I was getting a little frustrated with Alyssa’s unusual behaviour, but I figured maybe it was just her mood that day. But then it got worse.
Alyssa suddenly found it fascinating to poke, pinch and even pull hair of the other girls. Every time she did this, I would run over to her and take her out into the hall for a chat, trying to stress to her that this was wrong. The worst part about Alyssa’s bad behaviour, was having all of these parents watching me, waiting to see what I would. It was embarrassing.
I tried lecturing, yelling, I even tried pinching her back so that she would know that it hurts. It didn’t help. Every day we would begin and end dance class with these elaborate discussions about Alyssa’s behaviour. Her reaction was the same, to agree that it was wrong and promise not to do it again. But then the next time it was the same story. It got to the point where, parents would move their children away from her, afraid of what she might do. My sweet Alyssa was a menace.
“Should we apologize to the parents?” Michael suggested.
“What for?” I asked. It wasn’t like we had done something wrong, we weren’t trying to raise this terror to go and harass everyone. The truth was I didn’t want to speak to anybody. I was too ashamed.
And then I got a phone call. Alyssa’s dance teacher was not happy. Parents were complaining and saying that Alyssa was dangerous to be around for the other children. I apologized and promised to adjust the situation. We had guests over that evening, so I quietly put down the phone and ran upstairs. I ran breathlessly into my closet and closed the door and began to cry. I had anxiety over this. My Alyssa is such a sweet girl. She is smart and fun, and she loves other kids, and they love her back. Why was she suddenly hitting everyone?
Michael opened the closet door to find me on the floor. It just hurt so much. It hurts having someone tell you that there is something wrong with your perfect baby. Our children are our pride. We raise them as best as we could, hoping that they would learn from us and be good people. However, they are also our insecurities and when they are not as perfect as we want them to be, it is hard to deal with.
Michael said the words that I was thinking. “Maybe we should
just take her out” I nodded my head, he was right. This was causing me such stress, even though deep down I knew this was just a phase and normal, I just needed some assurance.
I went online and learned that many two year olds, like our own, go through this hitting phase, causing their parents much anxiety. The solution to this problem was geared towards time. That with time, the hitting will eventually get boring and she will stop. I went to my doctor.
“It’s almost like an experiment” my doctor explained. “She’s not being vicious, she just wants to see what happens when she hits. What will your reaction be? She is looking for your attention.” It dawned on me. She really wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. She would hit someone and then talk about it endlessly. I knew what I had to do.
“I’m giving it another go.” I told Michael. I took her back. I was pregnant at the time and realized that my pregnancy was an adjustment for Alyssa as well, and that she was looking for my attention. At the same time, I realized that Alyssa was hitting kids because she was curious. She wanted to socialize with them, but didn’t know how, so she would hit them instead. I took matters into my own hands. At 30 weeks of pregnancy I became a ballerina, right along Alyssa’s side. I sat right beside her, watching her and encouraging her to pay attention and follow the teacher and avoid touching anyone. I danced along her side and told her it was fun. And whenever she tried to hit someone, I would stop her and say “Alyssa, this is Victoria, she is a good girl”. (Notice, I didn’t say a word about the hitting, giving it as little attention as possible). Alyssa would repeat after me “Victoria is a good girl”, and instead of hitting her, would pat her on the head.
Eventually Alyssa stopped hitting the kids at dance, and learned all of their names instead, and eventually I was able to sit down along with the rest of the parents to watch my little girl dance. It really was just a phase, and I’m glad I didn’t give up because Alyssa is still excited to go to dance class. And although may sometimes get bored, she is learning and improving and still the most enthusiastic little dancer. Call this as it is, just a phase, part of growing, that eventually does have an end.