Our family was hit by a hurricane of massive proportion this bank holiday weekend. Rob and I were left wondering whether we should have recorded it on film because after the storm has passed, recollections are hazy and confused.
‘No one would ever believe how bad it is,’ said Rob as we sat slumped in front of the television watching the jubilee concert.
‘I know, Alfie Boe’s Elvis impersonation, it’s unforgivable.’
It was not the moment for humour.
‘”Did you have a lovely Jubilee weekend” people at work will ask me. “Wonderful thanks. My son said he is going to murder me, you and Rose with an axe, laugh as he watches us bleed to death and then commit suicide, SO HE DOESN’T GET INTO TROUBLE.” I can’t tell anyone what my weekend was really like, because it’s socially unacceptable and I can’t remember it that clearly because my brain has turned to jelly.’
He took another sip of Becks and his head dropped to his chest.
‘And while I’m holding Jamie to prevent him from smashing me in the face he’s shouting “I’m going to ring the police, I’m going to ring Childline because you are hurting me and you don’t care for me properly and they are going to put you in prison and I will be laughing”. One day he is going to be six feet tall and angry and it scares me. And no one will believe what it’s like. And they all say “but he’s a gorgeous boy, so sociable and friendly” as though he couldn’t possibly be capable of anything so violent and aggressive, as though I’m making it all up.’
We watch the crowds going wild for Sir Cliff, who performs a strange arse-slapping move.
‘I just don’t know how I’m going to get over this. I’m certainly never going to forget it.’
I resist the urge to make a joke at Sir Cliff’s expense. Rob needs to be listened to and believed. We heard some terrible things come out of the mouth of our son, some things so awful I will never be able to repeat them, let alone write about them. Together Rob and I will have to somehow knit them into our experience and continue the task of therapeutic parenting.
We will carry the battle scars from this latest incident, along with the others, collected over the past years. And they will fade. The books say that the parents and carers of children who have suffered early neglect and trauma should, after an incident, move quickly to repair. We’ve made a start, but sometimes it’s just not that easy.