C has been biting babies lately.
That's right, babies. As if it isn't mortifying enough when your small child decides to embed their tiny little teeth into human flesh - my kid prefers the flesh of those around (or under) one year old. This has been going on for a week or two, and has gained such momentum as to make me dread anyplace that requires peer to peer social interaction (only every place we go - ever. Ha!)
Today, at the splash pad, he left his literal mark on a poor sweet little baby who had been unlucky enough to crawl into C's sights. I was just mentioning the behavior to a friend when she stopped me mid-sentence to say, "Oh look! He's got one now!". Off I went to scoop him up and apologize to the baby's horrified mother.
Back on our blanket I asked him (for the zillionth time) WHY. Why would you hurt a baby? So far this question has gotten me a lot of make believe and not so useful answers. The baby was shooting at him. Babies aren't allowed at splash pads. The baby was chasing his cousin. That sort of thing.
Today, he told me the truth. Or at least, I think he did.
With tears pooling up in the corners of his little eyes he blinked down toward his toes and mumbled, "Because I don't want a TOY baby, Mama."
I had recently brought home a really cool wooden cradle from the thrift store and pulled out his toy baby dolls thinking he might enjoy playing Papa since he'd been harping on the whole baby thing so much lately. He'd told me that day, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted a real baby - not a toy, and promptly tossed his formerly beloved baby doll to the side.
"So when you see a baby you feel sad and mad?", I asked him gently.
He nodded, and told me again that he just wanted to have his own baby.
"I hate them.", he said. "But not Tony. I love Tony. He's my cousin."
Oh, my poor traumatized little boy. I shouldn't be surprised that he's soaking up all of the hurt and sadness that has surrounded our quest for a second child. Kids don't miss much, and this little guy loves his family more than anything in the whole world.
I can't help but feel guilty - like I did this to him. It really drives the whole failure vibe deep into my heart. Of course, I didn't lose his potential siblings on purpose, but they are lost, and there was nothing I could do to hide what happened from him completely.
And what can I say to him now? I can't promise him that a baby will one day come into our lives. I wish I could - but thanks to recent setbacks, I'm really not sure.
I can't tell him it's ok that we don't have one. First off, I'd be lying because I DON'T feel OK about that. Second, I feel like that would just be dismissing his feelings. I can tell him it's OK all day but that won't change what he wants. Besides, I hate when people say that to me.
So I just hold him, and agree with him, and tell him that it makes me mad and sad too. I tell him that I understand how hard it is to want something that we can't have - how frustrating it can be when there isn't anything we can do to make something happen. I assure him that it isn't his fault, or mom's fault, or anyone's fault. I confide in him that I hope we do get our own baby someday, but in the meantime we have a really great family that I love so much and that loves him.
He promises me that the next time he feels those big sad and mad feelings he will come and tell me instead of hurting the babies. I promise to help him remember, and I send him back out into the cascading water.
Later, he pulls the hat off of a toddler and I run over to stop the situation from escalating. The baby's grandmother is there, and laughs off his antics - not realizing where it was about to go. I explain that he has a "thing" about babies, then have to correct myself and explain further "not a GOOD thing".
She looks concerned, maybe a little disturbed.
I sigh. "We've had a few miscarriages".
"Oh!", she says, with immediate understanding. "Oh you poor things."
And she hugs me a little.
And I let go of my breath just a little.
And everybody feels better now that it's all been said out loud.