My son has a bruise on his nose. A bruise and a scratch. The bruise is new. The scratch is at least a week old.
When I first noticed the scratch, I asked him what happened. He said, "I don't want to talk about it." That's code for: I did something I wasn't supposed to do and got hurt.
I respected his wishes and didn't ask any more.
Tonight, after I gave him a bath, I noticed the bruise on his nose. It's not black-and-blue, but faintly reddened and blends into his dark brown skin. I asked him what happened and he started to get angry, "[The bus aide] pinched my nose!"
WHAT? The bus aide? The person who's supposed to be keeping him safe on the bus pinched his nose?
I'm going to interrupt myself here to note that today's not my assigned day to post at Hopeful Parents, but I couldn't resist after this incident tonight. I need and want to vent to other parents who understand. Since yesterday's writer missed, I'm figuring this is okay with everyone.
The bus aide pinched his nose. And the scratch? The bus aide did that, too.
What's weird for me right now is that while I'm able to use italics and caps like nobody's business in this post, I'm having a hard time feeling really angry and upset. It seems like I should be flying off the handle and figuring out exactly how I'm going to make sure everybody knows not to mess with my son again. But honestly? I'm only annoyed. And I'm feeling guilty with myself that I'm not freaking livid. Maybe if I type it in all caps -- FREAKING LIVID!!!!! -- that would help.
And now for some history. We adopted my son as an infant. He grew to have major behavioral issues -- so bad that by the time he was four, he had been removed from two schools. One of the schools was a therapeutic school designed for kids like him. He was asked to leave because he was a danger to himself and others. He's been hospitalized in the "psych ward" twice. And he's only five. Yes, five.
In the past, he's been violent, raging, aggressive. He's broken two toilets in our house, cracked a car seat. And by car seat, I mean the actual seat that comes with the car. The seat that's supposed to protect passengers in a car accident. Yep, my son cracked it using only the power of his legs. He's damaged nearly every wall in the house by throwing objects at them while in an utter rage. He's hurt my husband and I to the point where we stopped noticing all the scabs and bruises on our own arms, as though a bunch of superficial wounds were just part of the normal back-drop of everyday life around here.
Today, things are much better. But much better doesn't mean "normal." In fact, just yesterday as I was leaving the hospital with my son, a security guard -- the kind with guns -- asked me if I needed help with him. So, yeah. Things are somewhere between not scratched up every day, but nowhere near appropriate.
When I tell the story -- and I mean really tell the story -- about our family and life with my son during his particularly rage-filled fourth year, a common response I hear is "There's a reason God gave him to you." (Whenever I hear this, I wonder if people would say this to parents who didn't adopt their child. But that's another beef for a different day.)
I don't know if I believe that God gave him to us or that there was some pre-ordained destiny that brought us together, but I have thought that if my son were placed in any other household, he might have been dead. It's plausible that other parents who may not have the patience that my husband and I have would have beaten my son to death. Of course, that would be worst case scenario. Or maybe it's the thought that helped me feel better about myself during one hell of a year.
Regardless, what I learned after being beaten by my son nearly daily for months and months is that humans are animals. We have animal instincts. When we are attacked, our instinct is to attack back. It takes a lot of fortitude, strength of character, and personal restraint not to lash back at someone who has clawed at your mouth so hard that blood drips from four deep scratches finger-length apart.
Which brings me back to his nose. It is bruised and scratched. His bus aide did it. And tomorrow, I'm going to drive my son to school and get the aide fired. I'm sure they'll fire him for this, right? I mean, you can't harm a child! (Actually, I'm not that mad. I should have used a period on that sentence. But it seems like I should use an exclamation point, because I feel like I should be raising hell. But let's face it, the dude's going to get fired whether or not I'm feeling particularly heated.) If the school balks, the I'll report the aide to the department of children and family services, and I'll report the school to the department of specialized services. And if that doesn't work, I'll send the pictures I've taken to my friend who runs a PR firm and get this story on the news. It won't go that far. I am confident the school will do the right thing.
The bottom line is that I know what happens next, and know how to escalate the situation if I have to. I'm annoyed that I have to do any of it. And I'm feeling guilty for only feeling annoyed and not FREAKING PISSED.
Nope...still not pissed.