Thursday, June 17, 2010

The bad-mommy diary

The low point in my parenting career? I bit my son's head. Seriously.

There is a fantastic toy store in Ottawa, called PlayValue Toys. It has - or had, some 16 years ago! (that long ago? seriously?) - a great Thomas the Tank Engine wooden track set up, where toddlers could play out their Thomas obsessions to their hearts' content while their moms and dads wandered the store coveting all sorts of imaginative, educational, inspiring and expensive toys.

I used to take the kids there just for fun, even if I didn't plan on buying anything (though I invariably did). When we had four children under the age of eight, it was a cheap mommy respite. And it was air-conditioned.

Peter, at the time, was about four years old. But he has Asperger Syndrome, a mild autistic disorder, and, for him, any transition was a perilous time. And transitioning from something he loved with all of his heart (Thomas) to something he didn't (eating lunch or, well, anything else in the world) was the equivalent of sticking bamboo reeds under his fingernails. It was just. Not. On. And by that I mean, he would howl and scream and do the floppy-bunny-wet-noodle trick. We called it a meltdown.

Ordinarily, I kept this in mind. I would give him a ten-minute warning, then a five-minute warning, then walk him carefully through a goodbye ritual. I loved that boy to bits (love him still), and really would do whatever I could to spare him the emotional upheaval of a meltdown.

I'm not exactly sure what happened this time. Maybe I skipped a few warnings, or maybe we hadn't been there long enough for his Thomas-lust to be satisfied.

In any case, I found myself on the stairs outside the store, one child on my hip, Peter's hand in mine while he screamed and rebelled and tried to escape my grasp.

Reader, he bit me. On the arm.

And, reader, I bit him back. On the top of his head - the only part of him I could reach.

Immediately, I was overwhelmed with mommy guilt, but I will say that it stopped his wails. Not that that was my intention. There was no intention involved, in fact. It was completely reflex. I stood on those stairs praying that no one had seen me, especially none of the good mothers in the store. If you think spanking your kid in public is bad, just imagine what would happen to someone who bit their kid in public. I scrambled the kids into the car and went home with my tail between my legs.

Not especially proud of that moment. But I suspect it's one that most mothers can relate to. We do our best, but we are human.

1 comment:

  1. And yet, here he is, an honest and loving 20-year old. Evidently he got over it. Perhaps he even learned something about biting Mommy.



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