Monday, January 12, 2015

Parent Abuse

On the right side of my face, running parallel to my sideburn and down across my cheek for about three inches is a bright, red scratch mark.

Note the lump on his forehead. Also, note the lollipop on his
tongue. Life is good for a bruised up Master Blackwell.
It’s got the requisite amount of pink on either side to ensure maximum visibility and regular inquiries as to how I acquired it.

The answer is familiar for anyone who’s spent much time around me — “The boy did it!”

But, unlike the time all the beer got drank before guests arrived, or that other time someone used Mrs. Blackwell’s razor, this time it’s true.

I was leaned back in my recliner when the boy decided he wanted to play. As part of the dance he does to coax me, he waved his hands up and down rapidly.

In the midst of his flailing, his hand came close to my face and one of his fingernails got me. (Before you suggest it, I’ll interject to say that boy’s nails were trimmed — he’s not some sharp-nailed feral jumping from tree to tree in search of his prey.)

Nope, this was just a pinpoint swipe that resulted in a fine, red scratch on my face.

The conditions had to be perfect for me to get this scratch and they were. Just as they were perfect the time he threw his head back into my mouth leaving me with a fat lip for a couple of days; during that time I looked like I’d had a botched botox injection

None of this is a big deal, though it does rise past the level of minor annoyance once the real world intrudes and I’ve got to go to work, talk to people and be seen.

A scratch on one’s face does not evoke the most positive of speculations as to its cause. No sir, it conjures up images of dark alleys, physical resistance and witness stands. Or, in my case, perhaps it just makes people wonder what I said this time to push Mrs. Blackwell one step too far. 

I always knew I’d be the dad blaming his misfortunes and shortcomings on his son (“You’re the reason I’m not a published author!!!”), I just figured he’d be about 18 years old before I started doing it.

In all candor, I owe the boy another big thanks. Once again, he's got me considering the consequences of the heretofore unconsidered. 

The first lesson is that you can never, ever let your guard down around a child. They're not to be trusted. No other creature can inflict such damage with so little at their disposal. (Think groin and toy light saber.) 

Another lesson, particularly for dads like me who rough house with their kids: you get what you give.
Upper lip = bad botox job or head but bruise from the boy.
You decide.

If one is inclined to lift their kid up by the legs, hold them upside down and then swing him (or her) around like a tetherball, one might want to think about the child’s definition of “playing.”

I couldn’t begin to catalogue the many ways I might be reinforcing potentially dangerous playtime habits.

If he could articulate, the boy would likely identify playtime as any combination of: getting tossed, poked, chased, prodded, tickled and patted on the tummy so rapidly that you sound like you’ve swallowed a jackhammer as you giggle. 

Not that there is anything wrong with this. Playtime is fun, frequently fast and almost always punctuated with laughter. Bruises, scratches and tears are a small price to pay for the laughs. 

The fact that my co-workers might think I'm the victim of domestic abuse is more than worth it. 

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