Black and Blue and Embarrassed All Over

I took my sons to my favorite coffee shop today, the Starlight Cafe.  I had to meet someone next door to it, and the cafe is very kid-friendly (thank you Carri!), so I thought it would be fun to pop in and chill for a while with some juice and cookies.

I knew Ethan was tired.  I should have known better than to interrupt him.

To back up a bit, I ran into my friend Bunny and her fella there, so we sat together while my boys played with the toys Carri keeps for just such occasions.  A family with three well-behaved (which means probably spanked with a belt, but I’m only guessing) children sat in a booth eying my kids uneasily, or judgmentally.  At least, that’s what I imagined in my never-feel-like-I’m-a-good-enough-parent brain.

I should say, it was the parents who looked uneasy.  The children just looked jealous.

So when Ethan accidentally dumped the Othello game on the floor, I used every patient cell in my body (which is to say, not many) to go help him pick up the pieces and make myself look like the sweet, patient, in-control Mommy that I wish I were.  He wanted to play the game with me, but first he needed to put those pieces right where they belong, in the nice channels in the board intended for those little black and white circles.  I helped.  The baby B helped.  Unfortunately, Beckett’s help was more like removal and throwing, so it was taking forever.

Somewhere in there, the patient cells in me died and were replaced by newer, hurry-the-frig-up cells.

So I started walking away with the game while the pieces were still  in disarray.  Thus commenceth the screaming.  The OCD gene will not be silenced!

When I knelt down in front of Ethan, and under the smug glare of the sweet angel child parents,  to tell him he could not scream – he punched me.

And I do mean punched.

Knowing what would come, and in this new “trying to be firm no matter what kind of scene it causes” persona, I said, “Time to go,” and picked him up.  That’s when he grabbed a handfull of face with his ragged, sharp fingernails.  That bit of face included the eye that yesterday was hit at close range with a Bee Story toy.

My new friend, Bunny, looked on.  I avoided eye contact.  With anyone.  Mostly because my vision was a little fuzzy.

Bleeding, and trying to avoid being more seriously injured by this child I had in what I affectionately refer to as “the autistic kid is gonna kick my ass hold”, I finally looked at Bunny in embarrassment.

“Now you know where I get my material,” I said.

Indeed.

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8 Responses to “Black and Blue and Embarrassed All Over”

  1. No need to be embarrassed at all. I may not have kids, but I have had my share of being embarrassed by an obese, loud mother and a sister who has some sort of deficiency when it comes to social niceties. I’ve developed a lot of patience over the years of dealing with them. I know it can be very frustrating to try and reason with the unreasonable. Hang in there.

  2. It’s really all about you and Ethan. Ignore all the others and you will find your way. Been there with my oldest – there were times when we only stayed somewhere 5 minutes because it was the only way to teach her – and, I was often physically assaulted as I enforced the consequence – phew, seems so long ago – it WILL get easier.

    • I am so glad to hear this. I never hear women talk about being hurt physically by their children. It made me wonder if I was alone in this, or if I did something to bring it on myself. I hear some say we shouldn’t pander to our children’s every whim, but I think we must also be aware of their limits.

  3. This sounds just like my Thursday evening last week. Only I wasn’t in public. I was at home alone with my two kids, and one of them threw a car at my face (10 days later, I still have a mark). I didn’t post about it because I really didn’t feel I had much useful to say about it, but I did tweet about it at the time and got some “oh no” and “are you okay?” which is what I was looking for, but I also got plenty of unsolicited advice on how to control my kid, which is not what I really needed. I hate those smug looks from the parents with the perfect children. That is exactly why we have been avoiding an invitation by friends to go to a restaurant for dinner. Their perfect child and our two spirited kids….no thanks.

  4. Just be careful not to stereotype and judge, either.. not ALL well-behaved kids are beaten with belts. Some parents just get lucky and get kids with calmer wiring. I wish there were magic answers for this stuff. Parenting is just really really hard. For me with my youngest its not physical abuse, its verbal, and that is also hard to find the “best” way to respond. When my oldest child was young, she was mad at me one day and told me she hated me. A friend was over who only had a baby, and she was so shocked that I “let” my child say that to me. I just told her to wait until her kids got bigger. She has 4 now and I bet she gets it a little better.

    • For the record, I am known to use a little hyperbole in the interest of humor. If I was writing a serious blog, I would be more careful. I hope most would know I don’t automatically think quiet children are being beaten. I am aware that some children are just well-behaved.

      And also, I’m saying this in the sweetest way possible (in my head), not snarky like it looks all typed out like that 🙂

  5. I have well-behaved children. They just are that way. I don’t beat them into it. They were just born that way. That said, none of them deals with anything like autism. And neither do I.
    Even though my kids are well behaved, it doesn’t sound like your son was behaving poorly, except for the punching part and autism or no autism, that is not beyond the realm of potential behaviors for any frustrated 4-year-old regardless of their behavior track record.
    Some people like to say that my children are well-behaved because I have high expectations of them. I disagree, slightly. I think I have realistic expectations that include acting their ages. The 18-month-old will act like an 18-month-old, the six-year-old like a six-year-old and the nearly 10, accordingly.
    Some people do look at others negatively based on how their children behave. I don’t think I do. Not in a coffee shop, anyway. Not based on a singular impression. I’m more likely to ask if you need some help. If I ever look uncomfortable, it’s most likely because I am trying to figure out how to assist or whether to stay out of it.
    Don’t feel badly because your son punched you. He was in frustration and anger overload. It happens. It’s how you deal with it that counts. I’ve hauled more than one kid away from the scene of wildly outrageous behavior sack-of-potatoes style on many occasions. People will think whatever they want and they will think it no matter what you do.

  6. Boy, have I been there. As the mother of a 9 year old with ADHD and a spectrum disorder, I really appreciate that wrote this. It sucks to feel like you and your kid are being judged, especially by people with (seemingly) well-behaved children. It sounds like you handled it about as well as anyone could have.

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