Yesterday while we were out enjoying a lovely day with a group of friends (mamas and kids), my darling little boy walked up to my friend’s 16 month old son and scratched him across the face. Within a few minutes he did it again, and this time I saw the whole thing – DS just walked up to this lovely little boy, who was standing there minding his own business, and clawed his face with a swipe.
I struggled against the urge to cry. My friend, mother of the victim, actually came up to me and comforted me. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. But I couldn’t shake the sick feeling in my stomach that my beautiful little son had administered such unprovoked and dangerous attacks. Before we’d left the place he’d scratched yet another child.
DS has scratched kids before, but the incidents have been few and isolated. I had not seen them happen and assumed there was some sort of conflict involved. But yesterday I discovered that this was happening out of the blue, with DS actually approaching the child and attacking him this way without the child having done anything.
Today we went to our homelearner’s dropin group and within five minutes of being there DS had clawed another small child. I realized, with a sense of exhaustion and self-pity, that I had no choice but to start shadowing DS. Instead of my usual sit-and-chat with my mama friends, and watch for situations that appear to be escalating, I had to literally follow along behind DS every minute we were there. I couldn’t help DD with the week’s activity, nor could I help with cleanup. I could not leave DS’s side for fear that he would attack again. And yet, while I was tending to DD who had engaged in some sort of conflict with another child, DS ran over to the same little boy and clawed him again.
Usually we go to Science World after our homelearner’s dropin. But I decided then and there not to go. I was already exhausted and could not fathom having to follow DS around that whole place like a shadow for three hours. Instead, seeing as the sun finally made an appearance, we went to a nearby playground. There was only one other child there, older than DS (he seems to target little kids), and he was sticking close to his mother. For a brief while I got to sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine while the kids played. But after a while more children joined us.
Before we left that playground DS had hit a boy on the face, scratched another boy (thankfully it was a long-time friend of ours, who was more understanding) and, while I was handling a situation with DD, DS scratched the child who had been there when we first arrived – got him right across the eye.
As I left the playground I wanted to just cry. My son is obviously going through a phase, and while I have no idea what is going on in his head, I do know that he isn’t mean or cruel. It is woefully apparent that he has no concept of the fact that he’s inflicting pain on these kids. This is fairly normal 2 year old behaviour (have I mentioned how much I hate the toddler years?). With that said, it is very hard to escape the fact that my son has turned into one of those children I used to intensely dislike when I was the mother of one small girl. He is huge for his age – he is tall and weighs 40 lbs, and he won’t be 2.5 until next week! His attacks are unprovoked and unpredictable. Suddenly it is my son who is the pariah of the playground, the one all the other mothers are watching and keeping their children away from. It is, of course, my job to make sure he doesn’t harm anybody, but with two children that is difficult, even with the highest level of diligence.
If this were my only child we’d be taking a break from group situations for a while, but I can’t exile my daughter completely from her friends and activities. And so for the next who-knows-how-many weeks I’m going to have to make sure he is never more than an arm’s reach from my side. Just the thought of this leaves me feeling exhausted and beaten down. I’m sick about those precious little kids with gashes across their faces, and their fear at being attacked by a kid out of nowhere. I’m sick that it is my little boy who is doing this, and I confess that, for the first time in his little life, I looked at my son today and I disliked him. That alone is enough to make me cry.
One day I will look back on this and counsel some other poor mother who is experiencing it. But right now I wish more than anything that I could just wave a magic wand and turn my son into a six year old.