Last night, I couldn’t sleep. It could have been that cup of teh-si I ingested at 4.30pm at Killiney Kopitiam. But it could also be the fact that my child was randomly slapped by another boy with no rhyme or reason.
We were at Kiddy Palace and looking at cute little backpacks for cute littles. I strapped an “Elephant” one on Elliott and was thinking how adorable he looked. There was another boy standing just in front of us along the aisle. He didn’t look older than 3 years old, and his mum was beside him.
The incident happened so quickly, I did not see it. The boy was standing in front of me and the next thing I knew, I saw him scoop Elliott up in his arms, and the other mother exclaiming loudly: “Oh no, is she ok?” She thought that Elliott was a girl.
As it turns out, the other boy slapped Elliott suddenly. My poor baby was stunned. He reached out for me and as I carried him in my arms to soothe him, his bewildered and sad face broke my heart into a million tiny pieces.
The incident happened so quickly, we did not have time to react. And truth be told, I did not know how to react, nor what to say. Usually, we’d just shrug it off and say “Oh, it’s ok! Don’t worry about it”.
But this was not ok. Your child slapped my child without provocation, with no reason at all.
I was very proud of Elliott for not bawling. All he did was to lean against my shoulder looking sad. It will be an expression that will be hard to erase from my mind.
It got me thinking about this parenthood business.
On Sunday, he was the victim. One day, he just might be the aggressor. And when that happens, what do you do? What do you say? How do you react?
It made me a little sad that as my baby grows, we can’t be there to protect him all the time. But I am acutely aware that as parents, it will be detrimental to bubble-wrap (figuratively) him. The balance between the role of a protector and letting him explore the world on his own is a fragile one.