Friday, June 28, 2013


Yesterday, I made my son cry.

My beautiful, perfect, delicate little boy. I scared him, and I made him cry.

“So what?” you may be thinking. “Big deal? Kids cry all the time.”

Yes. They do. My son is no exception to this rule. He cries when I try to clean his face after a meal. He cries when I put him down for a nap. He cries when I get him up from a nap. He cries when I stop him chewing on the business end of a can of athletes foot spray (how dare I?) He cries for seemingly no reason at all.

He is very good at crying when he hurts himself. His mouth goes from its usual wide crescent smile into a downturned trapezium as he emits a primal sound which leaves no doubt as to its meaning: “that thing I just did really, REALLY hurt”.

It was in the process of trying to prevent one of those cries that I managed to make him cry myself. My vicarious fear for him causing himself pain transferred into real fear for him.

I feel lucky, and fortunate, to be able to say that in Cam’s year and a bit on Earth I’ve rarely had to shout at him. Actually, I’ve never HAD to shout at him. I’ve chosen to a couple of times. The times when the dark cloud of frustration comes over me and I wish with all my heart that he would stop doing whatever it is he’s doing. Just for a moment. Please. Stop winding me up.

But those occasions are few. And mercifully so. How easy it is for me to forget that my boy is tiny, and I am large? That he can be loud, but that I can be so much louder? That his actions may frustrate and irritate me, but that mine may terrify him?

Whoever designed folding doors clearly did not have children. Or hated children. Tiny gaps between wooden panels are seemingly irresistible to tiny fingers which are exploring the world for the first time. Cam has recently discovered the tiny gap, which can be peered through for “peepo” purposes. Soon, the peering gives way to pushing a tiny index finger through. At the same time, a barely perceptible shift in his position means the door begins to close.

The tiny gap gets tinier.

The finger remains.


The finger remains.

Tinier still.

I move my foot into the path of the closing door, stopping the immediate danger. But I am trapped. Sat on the opposite side of the door to him and unable to move to his side without removing my foot and  allowing the door to close completely.

I push his finger from the gap.

He immediately replaces it.

I push it away again.

He laughs. It’s a game now.

I wish he could talk. Wish he could understand EVERYTHING I say to him, not just “what noise does a pig make?” He can’t though.

He is in a giggling, ecstatic state. He bounces in excitement. This game is fun!

All I can think of is a tiny, crushed index finger and a frantic drive to hospital. This game is not fun.
I shout, because it is the only weapon I have left: “Cameron! No! DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGER IN THE GAP!”

The laughing stops. The finger remains. The smile is uncertain.


The finger is withdrawn. The bottom lip curls and trembles. The eyes well up. The noise begins its journey from his vocal cords to the atmosphere. His eyes question me: “who are you?”

I leap up and remove him from the vicinity of the door. The bastard, bastard door. I hold him tight and stroke his hair. I whisper comfort into his ear. Tell him I love him. Tell him I am sorry. Tell him I never want to scare him.

Ten minutes later we are playing happily together again. I hope he has forgotten all about it. That I am back to being the person who hugs him, tickles him, reads him bedtime stories in the softest tones I can muster. I hope that he is not afraid of me.

I consider smashing the door from its hinges.

I hope I never make my son cry again.


  1. I remember when I did this for the first time with my daughter. She was a bit older and I shouted and she cried, but what made it worse was that before she started crying she looked at me and said, 'you scared me daddy.' Never mind her I almost burst into tears.

  2. Oh my gosh, I barely remember the first time I made my kids cry, and yes I know that sounds terrible.

    But it happens often, mostly when you are trying to prevent them from hurting themselves. Heaven forbid you try and prevent him from running into a road or pulling a cup of coffee over himself!

  3. Poor Cam! But being shouted at is sometimes the only way to learn and to realise the danger of a situation.

  4. One of my earliest memories is crying after my dad grabbed me and yelled at me when i nearly stepped out in front of a car. He yelled and I cried.

    What do I think now? Thanks dad, love you.

  5. Well I have actually shut Matilda's finger in a door by accident which I can tell feels a lot worse. Oh and when they get to 2 years old and you shout? They just laugh at you :)

  6. You will unfortunately, but sometimes it's necessary for their safety or something similar. If you hadn't he could have really hurt himself.

  7. I do all my worst shouting through fear of them endangering themselves! Better that than they hurt themselves, which inevitably still happens sometimes. Then I cry too! Parenting sucks. It is awesome, but it sucks!