Not exactly how you want to start out a conversation with your neighbors, is it? But I’m going to have to figure out some way to explain to them why I won’t allow my daughter to play with their five kids any more.
Really, it’s just the one, the four-year-old boy. We’ll call him Damien, both for the sake of privacy and because it’s frighteningly close to his actual name (the parents seem to have a fondness for the kinds of names the death-metal rockers I hung out with in high school always said they’d choose for their children, except of course they swore they were never going to have any).
I hate to admit this, but I have never liked the kid. He frightens me. Actually, he makes me want to adopt him and then spank the ever-loving crap out of him five times a day for the next year or so until he straightens up, because G-d knows, when I lay down a rule or forbid him to do something and he looks up at me with that malicious smirk in his eyes that says, “stupid lady, you think you can tell me what to do!”, I want to slap him. I’m not proud of this, and I’m not a fan of the “violence solves everything” school of parenting, but I don’t tolerate blatant disrespect from creatures small enough to be an afternoon snack for a medium-sized python. It’s just not the natural order of things.
But the problem right now isn’t the fact that he’s got a future of juvie written all over his smirking little mug, or that when he demands that I fetch him a drink from the house and I cheerfully reply, “What’s the magic word?”, he responds with, “G-d, it’s just water.” It’s his obsession with cutting people up into pieces. That’s the only game he plays, from what I can tell, and most certainly when my three-year-old daughter is playing with him. He grabs a stick, a garden trowel, a hoe, whatever’s handy, then corners her while swinging his “knife”, as he calls it, closer and closer, screech-growling that he’s going to cut her up into pieces. It’s about all I’ve ever heard him actually say out loud, as he’s completely silent when not threatening her or his siblings with butchery, so I don’t know if this is his only tone of voice, or one he reserves for his little games of junior-slasher.
But you know, I’ve never raised boys, I wasn’t even raised around them. My husband, who was once a boy himself, agrees with me that this isn’t normal, but I tried not to take it too seriously.
But the past few days, my daughter, normally as rough-and-tumble as they come, has been getting hysterical at the sight of old bruises and scrapes on her arms and legs. Like, inconsolably upset. Putting her to bed for a nap sometimes, she’ll say, “Mommy, I don’t want to get cut up into little pieces.” Clearly, this has gone beyond a somewhat-morbid child’s game over the border into Deeply Disturbing Land.
So I’ve decided she’s not playing over there any more, and they’re not allowed in our yard (we’ve already had problems with him coming up and trying to get into the back door without knocking. Now the only problem is how to tell his parents *why*. “Sorry, but I don’t want my daughter playing with a kid who’s only about two years and a misplaced hunting knife away from mutilating neighborhood pets” doesn’t seem the most tactful route. And my own experience with bullies and actual psychopaths makes me reluctant to let them know how deeply disturbed by these “play” sessions my child is becoming; you don’t hand the enemy a list of your weaknesses, you know? After (repeatedly) telling the child that I don’t want people, ANY people, coming into my yard without invitation, I’ve looked out the window on many occasions to see him sitting on our fence, just staring at the house.
Smiling a little.
Seriously, this kid creeps me the hell out.