September 12, 2013 by The Friday Facts
INT. LIVING ROOM, BREAKFAST TIME. A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO: It was a beautiful morning. The first signs of Spring were streaming in through the kitchen window of our brand new digs and Sonny was scuttling around the floor as we prepared his breakfast. He decided to check out what was going on in the bathroom, a place where he almost always gets up to no good, and we let him go. After a time, my wife followed him in there. Next thing I heard was a loud thud followed by a blood curdling scream and hysterical crying.
“What’s up?” I enquired as my wife strolled back into the living room, furiously bouncing our inconsolable son up and down in her arms. “Oh nothing,” she said casually, “I just pushed him over and he landed on his face.”
“Oh.” I said, and went back to carefully spreading Vegemite over his little toast soldiers.
Within a minute, she plonked him back down on the floor and he resumed his playing, happy as a clam.
Although the incident – and my wife’s explanation – raised far, far more questions that it answered, no further investigation was entered into and the case was considered closed.
So in summary, Sonny had lasted at least three minutes in that bathroom all by himself – surrounded by toilet water, hairdryers and razor blades – without getting so much as a scratch on him. Yet it took less than 30 seconds in the company of the woman who gave birth to him before he came across a violent accident.
If only the participants in that A Current Affair Story on the country’s worst mums weren’t either dead or in rehab, they would look at my wife and shake their southern-cross-tattoo-splattered heads in shame.
But this is not about mum-shaming my wife, you understand. If you were keeping tabs on which one of us had caused which injuries to our first born child, the ledger would be more or less even. In fact, I might have just edged ahead by virtue of the time Sonny was crawling in the kitchen and my leg accidentally swept his arms from under him, resulting in a spectacular face-plant.
We’re a team, Sonny’s mum and me. We feed him together, we change him together and, god-dammit, we subject him to unspeakable acts of negligence together, too.
The real question is, when did this happen?
When Sonny was born we were his sworn protectors; the Kevin Costners to his Whitney Houston (failed there, innit! -ed). Then, when it became clear that this was an almost Sisyphean task, we became his healers; the Hawkeyes to his Korean war casualties. But when the hell did we become his aggressors? When did we become the Skeletor to his He-man?
The noises, and subsequent verbal exchanges, that one might have heard being yelled through walls at our house over this past year would undoubtedly have raised questions in some quarters that I’m not sure we could answer in a court of law. Exchanges like this one:
“Everything OK in there?!”
“Yep, all good. Just accidentally kicked the soccer ball into Sonny’s head.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing to see here. I was just rubbing toothpaste on Sonny’s nose and the brush slipped and went in his eye.”
Or even this one….
“What was that? Did Sonny fall off the change table?”
“Uum, hang on a second…… Yes.”
Trailer Trashing our Treasure
But the scary thing is that these weren’t even the lowest points. That actually happened a few months ago….
For someone who can’t walk, Sonny spends an awful lot of time on his feet these days. He hauls himself up using any edge he can find – tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, you name it – and then moves, crabwise, along the edge as he inspects whatever happens to be sitting on the surface.
On this occasion me and the missus were sitting next each other on the couch watching TV, and the back of Sonny’s head, as he clutched onto the edge of the coffee table. My wife was wearing mismatched pajamas and a pair of (no shit) 25-year-old Ugg Boots. I was wearing self-shortened track pants and a mustard-stained wife beater. Sonny was wearing a nappy, just a nappy, because we hadn’t been bothered to clothe him this night. If there was a moment in time that you could transform a snapshot of suburban culture into art, then surely this was it.
I can’t remember what we were watching, but it was either Masterchef or the Voice or some other such triumph of high culture. I would love to say, love to say, that we were eating fish and chips at the time, but I know that we were actually eating left over pizza from three nights before.
Suddenly, a huge crash was heard. In less than a second, I looked to my wife and she to me. Then we both looked to the floor where Sonny lay, bawling. Neither of us knew what had just happened. The closest thing to forensic analysis we could offer was to say that one second he was standing up and the next he was lying down. And the mother fucker of all head-smack sounds lay somewhere in between.
We picked him up and calmed him down and then both resumed our intended business of sitting on our fat asses and watching TV.
As we did, I’d like to think that we both came to the same simultaneous and horrifying realisation: if there was a hidden camera looking back at us from atop our TV – taking in the Ugg boots, the wife beater, the sub-primate viewing choice, the trailer meal and the almost criminal parental neglect – it would see us as the worst breed of trailer trash known to man.
Are we horrible people? I live in silent fear that the Child Services will turn up on our doorstep unannounced to inspect Sonny’s wounds. Because he has many, and my wife and I have explanations for few of them.
“Are you able to explain these bruises on his body?” They’d demand.
“Sure!” I’d reply. “That bruise is from when he hit his head in his cot and the other one is from when he ran his walker into the door frame.………not sure about that one, though. Or that one. Or that one. Or those five ones there. And the seven bruises on the other side of his body weren’t there yesterday. Oh, and that other one that covers half his face? I remember when that happened, I just don’t remember how it happened”
At the rate things are going, by the time he reaches kinder, Sonny will have a thrice broken nose, a severely cauliflowered ear and an eye patch. Years into the future, when my wife and me get nostalgic and decide to look back at his Kinder yearbook, this is what we’ll see.
But by Christ, he’ll be a tough little bastard. When confronted by bullies he will simply roll his sleeves up and say “Do your worst, fiend – there’s nothing you can do to me that my parents haven’t already”
The only solace we can take from this spectacular and ongoing streak of bad parenthood is that at least there’s no permanent damage. Not that we can see, anyhow. We’ve probably done untold internal damage to his brain that will materialise when he’s 25 years old and suddenly forgets what his name is.
Sonny Go Smash Now!
But if you’re concerned about Sonny, don’t be. Because this is far from one-way traffic. Why, just the other day I watched him punch my sleeping wife in the face when he was lying in bed with us.
Let me set the scene.
It was one of those situations you look at and then thank the Gods of Valhalla that it wasn’t you that was on the receiving end. But from an outsider’s point of view, it ruled! Though the punch itself was hilarious, it was the leadup that catapulted the scene into the slapstick stratosphere.
It was about 6am and Sonny was being a kind of a pill in the next room so I made the call to get up and pull him into bed with us. We have kind of an unofficial rule that if you bring The Child into bed during the witching hours, he’s your responsibility, so I duly kept him close to me as my wife slumbered.
But he soon soon grew bored of me and turned his attention to her. It was right about this time that I started to drift casually back to sleep. With my eyelids growing heavy, I watched the back of our son as he quietly surveyed the situation (the ‘situation’ being my sleeping wife). I then watched him raise a solitary fist to the heavens and then bring it down, with all the might and fury of Thor’s hammer, on his mother’s head.
Incredibly, she didn’t even wake. She just screwed up her nose, made some vaguely pained “hur-rumph” noise and then resumed her quietude. She probably had a violent nightmare in the 0.2 seconds it took for that to happen, but it didn’t matter to Sonny, who, like some hedonistic Roman Emperor who had grown bored with his slave-dancers, turned away and lay, looking up at the ceiling fan. Maybe he was thinking of vengeance. Maybe he was thinking of the very concept of violence and the power structures that define the very notion of perpetrators and victims and all the greyed lines that sit between.
Who the fuck knows? But the main thing is to remember that he’s done some far more fucked up things to us than we have to him.
Every Sunday evening when I was a kid, my brothers and I would get into our PJs and sit down and watch Disney movies with our parents. Now that I have a family of my own, we keep this tradition alive. My wife, with an ice pack delicately resting on her shin where sonny had deliberately and repeatedly rammed his toy truck. Me, sporadically wincing on account of the almost-certainly permanent teeth marks that sonny left on my scrotum when we showered together last. And sonny, with the adorable little egg on his brow from when I ‘aeroplaned’ him into the doorframe.
Yep, we’re a family, we three. Monstrous acts of violence and all…