He condemns her in a second. His tiny voice takes on a tremor of rage and I hear her scrambling to avoid the tornado of his arms as he windmills after her.  Her cries of pain carry a weight I cannot describe. I sprint up the stairs to her rescue. I want to grab him, shake him, wind mill my own arms until he sees the error of his ways.

She is mad but she’s not hurt. Eden is her own force and will not be sidelined for long. I walk towards him. He scrambles for the corner and begins to protest my reaction.

“She STEPPED on my head” he cries in frustration. She stepped on my head while I was just lying there minding my own business. She hurt my ear and it was the pain that made me snap. I just reacted. She stepped on my head!

I lean in real close. My anger can be seen in the stiff of my back and the square of my shoulders. It escapes from the squint of my eyes and is trapped in the clench of my teeth.

“Did she step on you on accident?” I already know the answer. I’ve intuited it from his words; from the leveled accusation against her. Had she done it on purpose he would have used a different verb; hit, jumped, kicked, punched. He said “stepped”. It was an accident.

His lack of response is enough. I tell him to go for a time-out and he shakes his head.

“NO” he screams in my face and I barely contain my own venom.

I pick him up under his arms and yank him towards the time-out corner.

“Let me go” he yells. I set him down and tell him he better march or I will drag him there the entire way. He reluctantly moves towards the corner. His despairing cries are now the only things escaping his mouth.

Four minutes later the timer goes off. He’s calm and a far different child than he was mere moments ago.

We have a one-sided discussion as I explain why he was wrong. He interrupts my lecture with a request for food.

I sigh. “Go get something from the snack cupboard”.

I have so many doubts. Have I made any kind of impact? Is this form of discipline working?

From the kitchen I over hear a conversation.

“You hurt me on accident, Edie. It was just an accident and I’m sorry”.

The apology is simple but concise. A truce is struck. They are friends, for now.

And the whispered condemnations inside my head are silenced. My fingerprint on this world is not smudged. Today I am what I’ve always wanted to be; a good mom.

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