Shame.

The Who gets his stitches out tomorrow. It’s been quite a few days, walking around town with Frankenbaby. He has gotten asked about it so many times that he really must be more ready than I am to have them out. Not one single person we have come into contact with has been able to ignore them. And, you know, I’m not sure that I would have ignored it on another kid either, but I will now. Because I know how traumatic it is and I can see how re-living it has not been his favorite thing to do. Although he has had a few moments of excitedly telling people that he rode in an ambulance, for a kid who is usually so chatty, he has not gone into any great detail about this accident. And he has had plenty of opportunity. Strangers at the grocery store, teachers and kids at his school, waitresses at restaurants — everyone. “What happened?” they all ask.

“I tripped and fell into a chair,” he answers — the same way every time. Flat affect, quiet voice. He knows that the polite response to a question is an answer, but he doesn’t want to elaborate. And this is the kid who will tell you every single discrepancy between the Wizard of Oz book and the Wizard of Oz movie, if given the opportunity. He will tell you his birthday, his age, his address, his favorite color, what he had for dinner last night, and his mothers’ ages. He will introduce himself to strangers. He will discuss, at great length, the dreams that his stuffed dog had. But when asked about the most excitement his family has seen in the past week, he just says, “I tripped and fell into a chair.” End of story.

Every now and then, he will ask me, “When I got my boo-boo, why did I hear you crying?” And I tell him the truth: I was scared and sad. Occasionally he will say, “I wish I didn’t have my boo-boo,” though he hasn’t said that since day two. He knows that tomorrow is stitches-out day, but he doesn’t mention it. My boy who talks about everything doesn’t want to talk about this.

On the day it happened, I told him that I thought he just tripped, but he insisted that he hadn’t been looking where he was going. It was sad at the time. It sounded like he blamed himself. I tried to tell him again that it wasn’t his fault and that he really just tripped, but disputing it seemed to be upsetting to him, so I let it go. I may have said, “ok,” which he may have interpreted as agreement. He only said it that once, though, and I forgot — until just now, actually. He thought it was his fault. Maybe he feels embarrassed or shameful about it. Come to think of it, the face he made when talking about it the day it happened was the face he makes when he feels shame. I didn’t put it together until just this minute.

Oh, I want to wake him up right now and reassure him that it wasn’t his fault. I assumed he knew that because it so clearly was just an accident. But I bet that every time someone asks him about it, he feels ashamed and embarrassed. Crap. Parenting fail. My poor little baby.

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2 thoughts on “Shame.

  1. Wonder if anyone can escape shame, regardless of good parenting…I wonder if you and he might talk about this some other time since you said you felt guilty as if it was your fault so shame to go all around it seems and then when he’d older, hopefully he can accept “shit happens” and it’s no one’s fault sometimes. Hope the stitch removal goes smoothly and sad hearing he had to relive it each time someone asked…hope I remember that too. Thanks. xox

  2. this happens a lot with theo. he does NOT want to talk about huge important things in his life (like life with sonni and me together). Good defenses i guess…until they are ready.

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