Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Worried Wednesday :: Child Abuse, AIDS, Cancer and Virtual Isolation

A big thank you to those of you who wished me well for the weekend. It went well. Very well in fact. Right up till the moment I almost made the news for abusing a baby.

How I wish I was joking.

Oh God, I can barely bring myself to tell this. Every time I think of it, I cringe and shout out. I don’t know why I shout out. But I do. It’s an automatic reaction when I think of something which really embarrasses me. I did it just now. For reasons I’ll come to in a moment, I’m sitting in an internet café in Peckham – more of an internet toilet if I’m honest – and, thinking about what I’m about to tell you, I shouted out. Nothing in particular, just a loud, strange-sounding grunt. The kind of noise mad people make. The guy who runs this place and the two other people on nearby computers all turned to look at me. They think I’m crazy. Am I crazy? I think I might be.

So. On Monday evening I was with some friends of Morag. One of them, the one whose house it was – let’s call her Beth – has a four-year-old son called Jamie. Jamie took rather a shine to me, and frankly I to him, so he was crawling all over me, and I was being a bit silly, making him laugh, tickling him and so on. All good innocent fun, and obviously a great little brownie point-earner as far as Morag and her friends were concerned.

But then it all went wrong.

Basically I made the mistake (I see in retrospect) of tossing Jamie up in the air. Just a little. I had hold of him under the arms and I pretended to throw him up in the air and catch him. I barely let go of him at all. Maybe for a second, but I made a big show of throwing him away, pretending to try and frighten him. You know how it is. Kids love that shit. And Jamie proved no exception. ‘More!’ he said, chortling and gurgling.

‘Careful, Stan,’ said Morag.

‘I know,’ I said, slightly fractious. ‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I don’t work for Haringey Council.’ And I faux-tossed Jamie in the air again, walking slowly around Beth’s large living room as I went, tossing and catching. ‘More!’ he cried, amidst wild giggles. His mother didn’t seem to mind at all and I was perfectly in control so I continued. ‘I’m going to throw you away!’ I said, and I tossed him up in the air again.

‘More!’ he cried.

And then it happened. In the blink of an eye, Jamie’s giggles turned to the most ear-piercing screams I think I’ve ever heard as his head cracked loudly against the concrete ceiling.

Basically, the wall between Beth’s living room and dining room was at some stage removed to make one large room… except for one column in the centre of where the wall used to be, and maybe a metre of wall hanging down from the ceiling all the way across. I’m sure there’s an architectural term for what I’m making a pig’s arse of describing here, but obviously I don’t know what it is. Basically there’s a bit of the wall left and I didn’t see it, didn’t even know it was there until I smashed a baby’s head against it.

Oh, God. I just shouted out again.

When I realised what had happened, I instinctively squeezed Jamie closer to me and started rubbing the top of his head. With his face bright red, soaking wet and contorted in agony, he pulled away from me and reached out to his mum, who was there in seconds. I tried to explain what had happened as she took her son away from me.

It really was one of the worst moments of my life. I felt hideous. I felt like a monster.

In retrospect, I guess the fact that he was still conscious probably meant that no lasting harm had been done, but at the time that didn’t occur to me. At the time, I was just terrified that I’d damaged a little boy’s brain.

In the end, he was fine, and Beth was really nice about it, much nicer I fear than I would have been if some stupid fucker had bashed my son’s head against the ceiling. And Morag forgave me before the night was out. So in the end, no harm done. But still, what an incredible doofus I am.

I still can’t believe it.

What if he’d just died? I... it doesn't bear thinking about.

God. I can’t get over it. I’ll be cringing for the rest of my life because of this. And rightly so.

So yes, apart from that, the weekend went well, and Morag’s friends seemed to like me. God knows what they’re saying about me now though.

Let the paranoia commence.

In other news, as soon as I've posted this, I’m going back to the doctor to get my stomach checked out again. I’m terrified I’ve got stomach cancer. Morag tells me that if I don’t stop stressing about it, I’m going to worry myself a tumour. This has made me even more scared. Can you actually worry yourself a tumour? Oh God, I bet you can. Right, no more worrying.


Then, tomorrow I’m going for my first ever in-relationship AIDS test. Woo hoo! To be honest, there is very, very, very little chance I have AIDS, but I suppose you never know. Mostly I’m going in order to give moral support to Morag. I’m still slightly nervous though.

On reflection, this seems quite personal.

Hmmm. Actually, forget I mentioned any of that. But wish me luck.

Oh, and when I got back from Brighton yesterday, I found that my internet had been cut off. I’m trying not to go crazy and kill everyone in a 12-mile radius because frankly, that wouldn’t be fair. Basically, the sub-human to whom I spoke last week misunderstood what I said by two weeks and now wants to charge me lots of extra money for their mistake.

I am rising above it. I am gritting my teeth and rising above it. Because life could be worse. In fact, it may be. But fingers crossed, it isn’t.

The upshot of this is that there may be a lot less blogging between now and the end of the year. But as I say, it could be far, far worse.

Oh, also, I’m getting a cold.

Stupid life.

I suddenly feel rather down. Please, if you can, tell me something cheery in the comments. Go on, it'll do you good too.


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Kirses said...

I'm off to Milan for a long weekend tomorrow - I feel very cheery about that because we have only had about two days of internet and email up time at work in the last 3 weeks - it is currently a very boring place.

Misssy M said...

You cracking a baby's head on a ceiling has bizarely made me feel better about me being a shit mother and completely forgetting to take my five year old daughter to her best friend's birthday party on Saturday.

I've been in tears about it. 'Specially when her Mum told me the little friend had been close to tears when my girl didn't turn up.

I have committed social death for my daughter, made a six year old cry on her birthday and think I might have some kind of early onset dementia.

Carnalis said...

i have nothing cheering, except to reassure you that children have reasonably tough skulls

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry about nearly killing a child. We've all done it, and sometimes accidentally too.

Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad about the mis-hap with the kid. Parents (including myself) have done far worse to their own kids accidently while horsing around, and kids are much more resilient than you'd imagine! Mine has a very thick skull! Plus, he's likely to do far worse to himself over the next few years, falling out of trees, crashing his bike, taking a few spills off his skateborad, etc.

Maria in Oregon

Inwardly Confused said...

I have accidently sprayed my son in the face with Cillit Bang, I ran him under the tap and he was ok, I still feel bad about it and get red faced with shame at my own stupidity. My husband has rubbish parents too, his Mum broke his arm when she put him on a small wall to tie his shoes laces, tied too tight and pulled the poor chap clean off the wall, his Dad broke him femur by running him over with a trolley in a tile warehouse, there are lots of us that been party to hideous child related incidents don't beat yourself up.

Anonymous said...

I understand that shouting feeling - I tend to growl. Every time I get near a bridge or the top of a building I avoid those thoughts like the plague... On a cheery note, my mum comes out of an induced coma tomorrow.

Catofstripes said...

I dislocated my son's arm when he was about 3.

We were just bouncing on the bed. A good deal of embarrassment at A&E ensued.

He's fine.

Anonymous said...

my brother cracked my niece against a ceiling when she was only 9 months old! other than her growing up to become a gargantuan pile of spam-sucking trailer trash, there were no lasting effects.

kids are resilient. we used to ride our bike without helmets [gasp!]frequently cracking our thick skulls on the pavement when a wheelie would go awry....

relax. and stomach cancer is generally treatable, right?

Anonymous said...

I once found a large, square, lego shaped indentation in the skull of a friend's 8 year old son. They didn't even know it was there. But I would suggest you don't toss any more toddlers. Quietening them down is a much more impressive skill than getting them up a height. A worthy but dull book should do the trick.

Looby said...

Dear Mr de Jour,
I have been a lurker on your blog for quite a long time, but never before posted. However, i feel it is now time to tell you what a lovely, lovely man you are. Your intelligence, humour and humility never fail to delight me.

Anonymous said...

I remember my mum rather enthusiatically encouraging my pram to mount a kerb, ejecting me in the process. I landed on my head on said kerb and as a result had an enormous, cartoon-style bump on my head. I don't remember the pain at all, but I do remember the glorious fuss everybody made of me. That kid will have LOVED all the attention, loved it. He's just fine.

Anonymous said...

The best thing about kids is they rebound quickly! If us adults could only remember to be that way...

But yikes indeed.

At least it made for a great post!!

As for me, my Dad is having surgery for cancer tomorrow, so nothing bright at this end of the tunnel, except that he'll be okay in the end. And so will the child.

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, I also make involuntarily moans and grunts of shame when I recall a particularly cringe-making deed. And I seem to be making a lot of them recently. I won't go into details; most of them are too difficult to explain, and anyway, I'm too ashamed.

When I applied for my green card to the US, I had to have an AIDS test and a chest X-ray. It was nice to tell my girlfriend (now wife!) that I was AIDS and TB free.

She found out about the crabs later.

Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure how cheering this will be, but I let my three week old daughter wriggle through the leg pieces of her cheap pram. To drop to a hard tiled floor. And then to roll down six stone steps.

What? You mean to say that these things don't come with a manual? At the very least a licence? They cleared the doctors surgery for me, checked her out and injected me with 10 things of valium because I was such an hysterical mess.

And onto the cheerful. I took the outdoor stone adventure baby to shop for her formal gown for next year. Pale pink, shows off her slender yet curvy body and I had to keep stopping to think "I fucking made that!" Well, SpouseHole had something to do with it as well,but not the good bits.

Mrs. Hall said...

Ya know, the rough play with kids, these things happen. The accidental head injuries and such. I have been literally sitting next to my son when stuff happened and he had to get stitches. TWICE.

And I am mother of the year actually.

Really, if you put into into perspective, kids are like little drunk people. Always walking around, bumping into things, being highly emotional, random bouts of puking.

If the boy is four, the mom knows this. And if she forgave you, then she did forgive you.

Either way, Stan. Your task now is to be proactive and not get all fucked up over it. When the thoughts, the cringes, the flashbacks begin in earnest, be proactive. Use deep breathes and other calming techniques.

Seriously, you are in charge here.

Don't let it get the better of you.

Mrs. Hall

Tim Footman said...

I do the shouting thing too, when I remember something particularly crass that I've said or done. It's a kind of bark when I do it.

And sometimes I'll do it in public and someone will ask what's wrong. And I'll say that I've stubbed my toe or something equally lame. Which gives me another humiliation to store in my id, primed to pop out and make me shout, in a vicious circle of embarrassment.

I've never thrown a kid at the ceiling though. I'm not that much of fucktard. ;-P

BPP said...

Fah! For a start, that sprog wasn't a baby, it was a four year old and they're practically indestructable. Secondly, kids that age are fuckwits with goldfish memories; he'll have forgotten a little knock in minutes. Thridly, that's all it was: a knock. Don't beat y'self up over an accident, you silly sod. What actually happened there was fuck all.

Anonymous said...

children are more robust than they seem. About 20 years ago my friend Andy, bit, leather-clad biker type was on a crammed underground train, nothing to hold on to, when everyone went flying when a sharp corner was taken rather fast. His bike, biker boot went straight into the face of a child. Nothing he could do, but he felt shit

Anonymous said...

I was a couple of weeks old, when my terrifc Mum, (wearing stilitoes and walking on Italian tiles in our kitchen) slipped and fell. She dropped me, and I rolled on the floor, my head ending up lodged under the fridge.

She couldn't forgive herself, quickly called the Doctor who said I was fine because I was making so much noise, and that he was more worried about my Mum.

I'm super smart, no damage done, so don't worry about the poor little fella on the weekend.

That's not why I'm commenting though... Stan, what happened that you're hanging out with Morag again? I've been reading along for forever, but I feel like I've missed a bit here.

Hope your tests go well.

Anonymous said...

Smashing kids heads against concrete lintels is fairly common. A friend did it to my son and he's at Uni now so don't worry.

I've got tomorrow off and I will be mainly going to the pub.


Some Chilean Woman said...

Nuse wannabe here again...the kid didn't vomit afterwards therefore he is okay -that's cheery.

Anonymous said...

Well, a couple of years ago when I was working in a day centre, I dropped a small child who had cerebal palsy. I still feel sick whenever I think about it. She was fine once she stopped screaming(small children are surprisingly tough) and I just passed my latest CRB check. So there we are. Also, as someone who used to work in child protection (and, you know, someone who doesn't like the idea of abusing babies), I read the beginning of your post with absolute horror, and then felt very relieved when I realised that it was an accident and you hadn't been molesting anyone's baby. The way you set it up, I was expecting much, much worse.

I hope you're feeling a bit better about it. Do you have snow to cheer you up? We have lots of snow up here. I made my dog very cross by throwing snowballs for her to chase. She loves the chasing, but gets enraged by the fact that they disappear back into the snow. Stupid dog.

Anonymous said...

Bete you're lovely and who knows someday if you decide to, I'm sure you'll make a lovely Dad. Accidents happen. Granted the kid bashed his head and cried but he also did get many a laughter before the incident happened. I'm that does outweigh the pain. Don't be too hard on yourself! And good luck with Morag, the AIDS test, the internet etc. Have a lovely weekend, ride the wave of emotions...take care now. A.

Catofstripes said...

Oh yeah, and when I was a baby, my sister dropped me on my head in the coal scuttle.

I'd forgotten that. In fact I forget a lot of things...oh mi god!

Just kidding. I hit my sister over the head with a poker. She was fine too.

Why the AIDS test? I did one once for a new lover but afterwards I felt I'd been bullied. Did he not trust me?

Anonymous said...

I make involuntary noises when I remember embarrasing things I've done, too. Sometimes a groan, sometimes a squeak.

I'm afraid I have hit more than one small person on the head by accident while looking after them. I once fell forward while carrying someone else's baby up the stairs and hit the back of their head hard on the stairs. I have hurt several children while playing rough-and-tumble games. It eels terrible. You fantasise about having killed them. Particularly that time with the baby on the stairs I worried he might die, and whether my close friend (his mum) could ever forgive me (or me myself) if he did. But he didn't. Generally they don't. They do actually bounce. You have to try quite hard to cause lasting damage to a small person. (four years old is not a baby) (or did I mis-read? was it four months? whatever).

And most parents (a) learn that small people bounce, so don't worry too much when things like that happen, and (b) have done it so many times themselves already that they don't judge when other people do it.

After all, think about it: How can anyone stay on the ball 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year? Particularly when they're knackered from trying to stay on the ball 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year? Parents make silly mistakes all the time. It's inevitable.

It's all right. Don't fret.

PS. About the what-if-they-died thing: It's one of the curses of having an active imagination. One of the stupid tricks my brain currently brain plays on me: Whenever I identify a threat to my four-month-old son's safety, like I realise that if I'm not carefl I might bang his head on the low attic ceiling or jab him in the eye with the knife I'm using to chop carrots, I suddenly imagine myself doing it on purpose. In 'orrible, grisly detail. I really really don't want to harm him and I know that I never intentionally will, it's just I have a really stupid overactive imagination, which reacts quickly to random triggers. Hmm. Not suer if I should admit to that. Sounds worse than it is. Bet I'm not the only one though.

LaLa said...

I once dropped my little cousin on her head on a concrete driveway and every time she saw me for the few weeks after that she would rub her head. I told everyone she fell herself and felt terribly guilty for years.

You will be glad to know she is a normal, lovely 20 year old now with no issues from that crack on the head so I am sure that kid will be fine too!

Anonymous said...

You're not going to beoieve this but today I hoisted my son up onto my shoulder with a modicum of oomph (cos he's heavy) and heard a loud thud... cos I was in the attic under a low ceiling and had cracked his head with some force on the ceiling. And I don't even have the excuse that I don't know the layout of the house.

He didn't even cry. Completely oblivious. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
It's the kind of event that time transforms quickly. Soon you will say "do you remember when I squashed his head on the ceiling ?ha ha ha !".
Uncle Did

La Framéricaine said...

So, what's up with the stomach? I just wonder because I did a 4 year stomach ache associated with excessive worry over my husband's real prostate cancer.

The body is just one giant stress meter. When you jack up the stress--moving is way up there on the list, even thinking about moving will do--something gives--stomach, head, bladder, sciatic nerve, neck, GI tract, hemorrhoids, upper-respiratory. You name it, I've had it.

So, what's up with the stomach?

Oh, yeah, little kids? I just don't touch 'em and that impresses the hell out of 'em because everyone else is always paying attention to them so their like Pavlov's dogs when an adult comes in sight. If you behave out of character, they get interested and you don't get jail for involuntary childslaughter.

I swear to gawd, one of the things I love about reading your blog is your commenters. They are so sweet to you!