The little boy looks to be about 5.
Cute. Flushed pink cheeks from running around at soccer practice. He almost looks like one of the Campbell’s Soup kids.
But then you hear him speak to his mom.
“I hate you.”
You cringe and think I’d never let my child say that.
But the mom doesn’t react, other than to quietly tell the boy it’s time to go.
“I don’t need a mommy any more,” the little boy cries.
My child wouldn’t speak to me like that, you think.
But again, the mom barely reacts.
Until the little boy hits her and slams his head into her arm so hard that she visibly flinches.
My child would never do that, you think.
But that mom, all she does is take her son’s hand and start guiding him toward the parking lot.
“I’m going to kill you,” the little boy yells. “I’m going to kill you in your sleep!”
No reaction from the mom, other than a brief hitch in her otherwise determined stride.
Some people, you think, can’t control their kids. Mine would never, ever behave like that.
Meanwhile, the mom drives home, stopping to pick up her other children, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and playing the radio a little too loudly. She mentally reviews their calendar: therapy appointments and who she can call for more help.
They return home and the kids pile out of the van and into the house.
Mom follows, slowly.
Wishing she’d never heard such things.
Wishing there was a way to get through to her son when he gets upset.
She passes her other two boys on her way to the laundry room, briefly running her fingers through their hair, thankful that they don’t react like this, that little things aren’t such a struggle for them, that they understand that words can hurt.
She closes the laundry room door, sinks to her knees in a pile of dirty clothes.
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