He lunges at you and you automatically put your hands out to defend yourself. That is how it works, right? It’s not just me?
I grab his hair to just get him off, but I let him go. I can’t do that to him. His lack of control doesn’t earn him that kind of pain. He sinks his teeth into my hand, but the couch is in the way. He is between me and the table. I can’t push him off. I can’t back up.
My fingers start to close on his hair again.
“Just get out of the way,” Mom tells me. “He just needs to calm down.”
But I can’t get out of the way and his eyes are closed tight. Two-year old anger bottled in a fourteen-year old who can’t walk, can’t move. All he wants is to run. But he can’t. He bites harder, shaking my hand.
Water is in my eyes. I grit my teeth.
“Get out of the way.” Mom stands up now.
“Yeah, yeah.” I try to pull my hand out.
“Cole, don’t bite!” Mom comes over, trying to haul a dead-weight fourteen year-old. “Get out of the way! Why aren't you moving?”
But my hand is still in his mouth. His jaw isn’t that strong. I can feel him relaxing. He lays down on the ground, exhausted. Mom and I pick him up and put him in his room. Long, lanky, bony little boy with gap teeth and bright eyes.
We sit in silence in the living room. I squeeze my wrist, because maybe that pain will cover up the pain in my hand. Mom rests her head on the couch, looking mindlessly at the ceiling. Minutes tick by.
“He really is doing better,” Mom says.
When his time-out is done we open the door. He’s sitting on the ground, smiling a crooked, mischievous smile. He calls me his special name for me. He can’t pronounce my real name. He crawls over and through the door. On his way out, he spies my hand. Bruised, with tooth marks still deep and dark. He looks up at me, unknowing, with huge, blue eyes. They fill with tears.
He sits in the door, patting a place beside him. When I sit down, he gives me a sloppy kiss. Then he puts his arms around me and hugs me tightly. I look up at mom.
Her face is white and tired. She smiles wearily. I can see the tears welling up in her eyes. She sits down too, and hugs her baby boy. Our perfect little boy.