His hand reached up. Gently I held it. I bent down to his eye level.
Quickly his other hand smashed into the side of my face. His boot cracked repeatedly off my shin bone.
For a guy who stood at 4 ft 0 inches he had the strength of an Ox.
He roared in my ear as I refused to let go of his other arm. I began to hum trying to help him regulate himself.
I got closer to him. I moved quickly behind him restricting some of his movement for his safety and mine. He roared for me to let go.
I hugged him securely, letting him feel the weight of my body up against his.
"I will, I will in two minutes” I calmly responded. We stood in the middle of a busy shop rocking back and forth until, finally, the storm had passed.
I remember this particular meltdown for three reasons.
Reason one was that it was over in under a minute. This was the beginning of Ethan learning to self regulate with a little bit of help. This was also the beginning of Ethan having less and less meltdowns.
Reason two is that Ethan had just had carpal tunnel release done on both hands (his hands were in soft casts) I thought that had meant that the casts wouldn’t hurt. I was wrong.
Reason three is that Ethan gave me a black eye. Now, I know and you know that the child couldn’t control himself and didn’t mean it but the general public tend to think that if a woman has a black eye there is only one reason for it.
My poor husband.
He’s not small. He’s an ex rugby player who stands a good head and shoulders above me.
So sit back and relax and read my little tale about that one time my husband had a wife with a black eye and a son who’s both hands looked to be broken to the untrained eye.
“Fug Fug Fug” his tongue was firmly between his teeth now. He shook his head vigorously while stomping his feet.
We both knew that we needed to get Ethan out of the playground as fast as possible.
Back then we were thankful that the general public had no idea what ‘fug’ meant when Ethan would roar it at us. (Yes, it’s that really bold F word)
The playground was filling up around us and we had to get back in ten minutes to collect our other son from his play date.
I was wearing sunglasses despite the cloudy weather as I had had enough of the stares over my fresh black eye.
We both gave chase.
We really were always surprised at how quick he could run considering how restricted his joints and mobility was.
There was nothing absolutely nothing more fun to Ethan than getting a chase. We like fools chased him around and around.
I finally caught him while my husband blocked the gate he was planning to escape through.
Whatever way I caught Ethan he spun around and knocked my glasses off.
“Don’t let go of him” my husband bellowed from the gate as he began to run towards us.
I had Ethan in my arms while he tried to swing his head back, almost connecting with my face each time I tried to get closer to my disregarded sunglasses.
My husband was still reminding me; ”You have him, hold him!”
Ethan swang one of his casted arms at me. Remembering the pain of the time that thing connected with my face, I let the kid go.
He won. I didn’t want two matching black eyes.
He ran behind me and wildly into the now silent playground.
My husband ran passed me and grabbed Ethan up in one swift move and carried him under his arm like a rugby ball.
Ethan always loved this move and began screeching with what we knew was delight.
Ethan's screeches, I should state to be fair to all involved, sounded a little like a high pitch cat, the happier or more excited he got the higher the screech went.
He would then chew his fingers and kick his legs when the happy excitement started to become too much for him to handle.
He was not kicking or chewing, so we knew he was fine and happy.
Both of us relieved and tired after our unexpected workout, we laughed as Ethan declared it was “timed to go” and happily let his daddy carry him sideways out of the playground.
We got as far as the car when I realised I had forgotten my sunglasses.
I ran back.
I ran back to find a few mothers standing around talking about ‘that brut of a man and that poor woman and child’.
“Are you ok?” one of them asked as I got my glasses and tried to sneak away.
“Aw thank you” I smiled, thinking how good of them to ask.
That must have looked odd to you ladies but I assure you my husband isn’t a brut” that was my subtle way of telling them that I had overheard them.
“Ok. And your son's broken arms?” one spoke up.
“Oh, yeah, no, he hasn’t broken anything, he had carpal tunnel release” I knew I sounded like someone who was making excuses but I didn’t know what else to tell them and I felt compelled to answer them.
They exchanged some looks and nodded at me.
“We can see you got a bang on your eye…”
“Yeah” I felt really uncomfortable but didn’t want to say my son did it nor did I want them to think my husband did, so I said the most cliche thing in the world, “I walked into a door”
“Thanks” I offered as they stood in silence looking at me.
“Do you need anything?” one of them offered.
“Me?” I laughed nervously, which made me think I was making them think that I needed help to escape or something.
“Apart from the winning lotto numbers …” I tried to sound funny or light or anything other than a woman afraid of her husband.
“Thanks again ladies, am thanks, I really have to go” I turned to leave when a hand tapped my arm and a soft voice told me “there is help out there”
I said absolutely nothing.
I figured the more I denied it the more I sounded like an abused wife.
I made my way back to the car to find my husband and Ethan enjoying a bag of sweets.
“Let me guess, I am the number one suspect for the shiner”
“Yeah AND for Ethan's casts”
“Did you correct them?”
“Yeah but the more I said the guiltier you were looking, to be honest”
“Ethan, I am begging you to never give mammy another shiner. Please. I will take the shiner no problem but don’t hit mammy again in the eye. Actually, don’t hit mammy at all buddy, ok?” my husband turned to Ethan who was now happily sticking his middle finger up at two of the park ladies as they walked parallel to our car.
“Just go!” I laughed.
And that was the last time my husband came anywhere with me when I had a fresh shiner from Ethan - not to say I got them often but I’m pretty sure he connected with my eye on at least two more occasions.
These are the odd or tricky situations we can find ourselves in when we are the parents of children who have special needs.
Even when the general public think they are doing a kind thing they can be still so very wrong; it sure is a hard balance to find for us all.