Tonight I felt like writing something that has to do with nothing other than my wanting to write a story, so this is what I came up with. Not a story per se, but perhaps the start of something. We'll see.
The first time I hit him was right after he bit me, right on the thigh. That’s where he bit me, not where I hit him. I hit him smack on the bottom, and it was a smack. The smack rang out in the bathroom, seeming to either echo or reverberate. I’m not sure which since it was a small bathroom and something of an echo chamber. So maybe it was echo, though not the sort of echo one hears when in the mountains.
I never planned on hitting him. What parent does? I was giving him a bath, he was maybe a year old, a little younger, a little older, hard to say at this point. I can’t remember exactly what prompted it, probably my lifting him out of the tub. I was raising him over the side, sitting on the toilet I was, and somehow or another he just bit me, right on top of my thing. Or maybe I had set him down and his face came to my thigh and he bit me. Either way, it was out of nowhere, a bite and then a smack. My hand shot from my side and slapped his bare ass. Immediately his face went red, scrunched up and he let out a howl of pain and resentment, probably equal parts of each. I know I swore as I hit him, probably “God damnit!” or something along those lines. Maybe “Fuck!” Either of those would have been, would be, typical of my response to something of that sort.
Not only did I hit him, but I grabbed his pudgy little arm as I did so, holding him near me so I could give him a good smack. I didn’t want it to be a glancing blow. I wanted it to hurt, for him to hurt as much as he hurt me. The problem was, and is, that he really didn’t hurt me much. How much can a kid barely a year old hurt an adult, especially by biting him on the thigh? It’s not like he had a lot of teeth, though those he had were pointy and sharp, nothing a woman would want a child nursing with. The bit was more like a poke and a pinch, or a pinch and a poke, but nonetheless, I gave him a good smack for his troubles, for my pain.
I’m sure I said something along the lines of “What the fuck did you do that for? Fucking Christ!” You can probably tell that I swear a lot, especially at times like this. I’d like to say that it was a one-time deal, that I hit him once and that was it, but that wasn’t it. It was the first time, and after that, after I got over the guilt of hitting a kid, my kid, it got easier. Any little transgression, though not every little transgression, could result in my hitting him again. It was always under the guise of discipline, of teaching him a lesson, as if a kid his age could learn anything. I don’t think that even my father, who would give us a whack at just about every turn, would have hit me when I was that age, barely a year. Maybe because he didn’t have to be around us most of the day, because my mom was doing the work while he was at the office, bringing home the proverbial bacon. Me, I had to bathe him, clean him and his diapers, all the sort of crap a modern father does, or is at least expected to do. Plus cleaning. My wife expected me to help with the cleaning too. So I smacked him because he bit me.
The bathroom was in the upstairs, just off the hallway to the extra bedrooms. His mother was downstairs, maybe cleaning the kitchen, or taking a break while I bathed him, but she didn’t hear a thing that first time, and I made sure she never knew about it. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have approved of my hitting him. Even to this day, I don’t think she’s hit him. She can be pretty harsh with him, but she’s never hit him. Me, I’m pretty harsh with him sometimes as well, but I’ll hit him too, just so he knows who to listen to, who is in charge, me.
Even now, I don’t have to hit him to get him to pay attention, but boy can I make him jump out of his skin. He might be sitting there, listening to music in his headphones on his iPod, or watching a movie on his dvd player, again listening with his headphones so I don’t have to hear it too. If I say his name loud enough, usually because I want him to do something, it’s like he’s been startled from a dream. His whole body jerks, his eyes go wide, and he looks right at me, almost like the dog does when he’s in trouble. Only the dog has a better sense that I’m to be listened to. Not so the kid, so sometimes I have to hit him. I don’t like to let too many, well, any people really, know that I sometimes hit my kid. They wouldn’t understand, and it’s not like I leave bruises on him, or even leave him with a lasting pain.
It usually just enough to get his attention, sorta like smacking a dog with a rolled up newspaper. After that, he listens and he obeys; the same with the dog. Show him who the boss is, and he obeys. That’s all I ever want. I don’t want to hit. I just need to be listened to, to be obeyed. It’s not that hard to figure out. Any parent will tell you pretty much the same thing. Nothing pisses a parent off more than a kid who won’t do what’s told. And one of the best ways to get a kid to do what he or she has been told to do is to hold the threat of violence over them. It’s not rocket science. It’s not science at all. Dogs are social animals and they run in packs. People are social too, running in packs, families, and the alpha has to make himself known. So I hit him.