wind him up and watch him go

by Sara Crowley

He hits me. Whump. A punch in the stomach. I slap him hard across his cheek. It stings my hand. I want his face to crumple and the tears to come because that signifies the beginning of the end. It takes longer to get there these days. When he was a baby even a cross voice would cut through his tantrum and halt him. Then it was threats: you won’t go here or do that, and there’ll be no T.V., no sweets. Now he doesn’t care what he loses.

Mick and I have sent him to his room every day for a month, banned him from telly, play station and music. We’ve taken all the toys and clothes and stuff out of his room. (This after he trashed half of it, threw Chloe’s `The tiger who came to tea’ tea set against the wall, thump, smash, toppled the wardrobe. For one moment I didn’t know if he was underneath, it all went so quiet.) It makes no difference.

Dan flings one of his long legs out and in: a jerky movement that indicates the start of the storm. His arms join in, and his voice, louder and louder. He stamps, his face flushes, the tips of his ears scarlet with fury. The senior paediatrician told me to look out for that, red ears means he has lost control, and there’s nothing to do but wait it out, which sounds fine when she says it.

The psychologist said that Dan wants to be a baby again, that’s when he felt safe and cared for. We are to wrap him in his blankie and fetch him his teddy. I should whisper to him and soothe him to calmness. But he’s ten now, tall, gangly, strong with anger.

I send his sister Chloe for the quilt and Boo the bear, and I do whisper, I whisper “Shut up you fucking little shit head,” over and over through my clenched teeth.

Supermarkets are the worst, all those people staring in disbelief at this big boy, stropping his way around and whining in his baby voice. I don’t get embarrassed any more, although I do wish I had cards to hand out or something. I could get some printed: “He has special needs, all right?”

We did the reward system, stars on a chart for doing well. But a week is a long time to him, and he could never make it. We ended up just doing days, and made the tasks really simple, but even then he failed.

We tried talking things through, but he’s not very articulate. If only they made emotional Sat-Navs or something, to guide me through the tangle of his mind.

He’s my boy, my beautiful boy. When he sleeps my heart swells with love.

When I got the knife out, I thought it’d scare him into stopping, and it did. He looked terrified. Which goes to show doesn’t it? He is in control of it if he can stop just like that, eh? I just need to keep on finding ways to scare him, and then we can get some peace.

Sara Crowley blogs at A Salted.

  1. #1 by StuckInABook on March 5, 2008 - 3:08 pm

    Wow, Sarah, really impressed by this. Moving and chilling at the same time. Great attention to detail in so short a story.

  2. #2 by Vanessa G on March 7, 2008 - 1:41 pm

    Strong stuff, Sara. Nice one.

  3. #3 by Jenn on March 14, 2008 - 11:02 pm

    Woah – this made me scared about what is to come with my own little one. I love sanitised accounts of parenthood and this is one of the best I’ve rad in a while.


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