I hit my toddler

22 November, 2009

I hit my toddler,  Asha.  I hit him again, over and over. I can’t stop.  Time opens like a wide cave and we fall, between dark seconds. There is no here, no now, only Asha and the beat of my hand on his back. I look down at his now burgandy face, he looks straight ahead, eyes wide, no sound. Someone shouts for me to turn him upside-down, but I don’t listen. A distant voice says “Do you want a first aider, do you want a first aider?”. It’s the check out girl – full of initiative. I ignore her. An urgent terrifying thought comes to my mind, I throw it out and hit his back again. Something moves in his mouth and he gently throws up into my welcoming hands, he breathes. I breathe.

Check out girl stares at me and I ask her for a tissue. She kindly offers me two of their cheapest tissues and then as an afterthought, a jay cloth. I wipe my slimy hands into a jay-ball of sick, then I hand it confidently back to her. The woman next to me looks away from me in disgust. It’s not the jay-ball, I think it’s to do with my holding up the queue.

Inside I am shaking. I am cracking into a thousand tiny pieces of relief. Calmly I reach for my card, as if nothing has happened and slot it into the machine. Check-out girl says “I’ve never seen a kid do that before?”, She is too shocked to ask if I have a points card. No one else speaks to me, no one asks if he’s ok, I wheel Asha away and we cling gladly to each other. To celebrate his survival we split a chocolate Ripple at the fag counter and leave the supermarket. The sun is shining and the world looks good to me. I smile at everyone I pass, and they smile back. Strangely normal in Witney, but that’s they way of small market towns, they are still very local places. And that’s the strangest thing about what happened. No one said anything to us. If Asha falls on the footpath, people stop and see if he’s OK. If he’s feeding the ducks, people pass and smile, and say “hello”. When he played at the check out, people were smiling and watching him. Pointing when he hid from my sight, telling me he was right there – just a few seconds before it happened. But no one spoke to us. I struggle to understand it.

Is this the world I’ve heard about on the news? That world where no one cares about anyone else? The one where people walk the other way, rather than help someone in distress? Am I out of touch with reality? I stopped watching the news a while back, because I objected to it being just so negative. Good things do also happen everyday, but they don’t make dramatic headlines, they dont stike the beats of Big Ben in quite the same way. If the news was renamed, “All the bad things that happened in the world today”, people would think twice about tuning in at the end of a long day.

As we walk across the meadow, safely hand in hand, thoughts come to me. Someone did call out, “turn that kid upside-down”, but I ignored them. The check-out girl did want to get a first aider, but I ignored her. Perhaps people really did want to help. I only looked at the woman next to me, frosty for sure, but I didn’t look down the queues at the others. I paid and left. What if they had wanted to say something to us? Maybe, they were concerned at the little boy choking infront of them? The one they’d just been watching and smiling at.  But we, The English, are not good with sticky situations outside our preset social boundaries.  We are not easy with the warm words and actions of other cultures.    I too played my great british role of  “good in a crisis”, to perfection.   The irony of it dawns on me, that it was me, who did not look up to meet their concerned eyes.   I didn’t let their kindness in.

6 Responses to “I hit my toddler”

  1. Newdawn96 Says:

    Your perspective is so worldly! I admire you

  2. Sharada Says:

    But why do we have to make it so easy for people to reach out? Are people so frightened of rejection that they are scared to reach out? I have been before, thanks for reminding me not to be in future.

  3. Haristory Says:

    Care is given and received, so is love. There are two people in an exchange. They were there offering kindness, it was me who kept my head down and left without looking up – and then wondered what was wrong with everyone else.


  4. Laura Says:

    I was very moved by this post. Every part of it.

  5. Yahoo.Com Says:

    This is exactly the 4th blog, of yours I actually read through.
    Although I personally enjoy this specific 1, Sun Shades “I hit my toddler | Thank you for the days” the best.
    Thanks -Cleo

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