I weaved, and luckily the feces flew by my face.
“You’re the worst fucking dad in the world! I fucking hate you! I want to get out of here!”
The shrill pipe of the scream doesn’t mesh with the adult curse. I have to remind myself not to take it personally and that he learned it from the kid with Tourette’s. The angry boy is here now, not the sweet one who calls kittens cute.
“You need to get cleaned up. You’re hungry. You need to eat.”
“Grrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!” GO! AWAY!” His fists start windmilling at me and he also tries to kick. His head’s down, but I can see him looking out the corners of his eyes, trying to avoid stepping in his own effluent.
I hold him away with my arm. I’m hoping he doesn’t grab me. I don’t want shit on my sleeve. “You need to get cleaned up.”
“Go away! I hate you!”
It stinks in here. There’s piss and shit on the linoleum floor and the padded walls. I’d be angry about being in here, too.
“Come on, let’s go get you cleaned up.”
“RRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!” He leans into me and lands a few glancing blows on my chest. Satisfied, he pulls back and crouches in the corner.
“Mark, you can’t sit in this room naked from the waist down all day. What are you going to do?”
“Go away, dad. I hate you.”
“What do you want to do here?” the principal asks me from behind.
“I don’t know yet. I think wrap him in a towel or blanket and take him to my car.”
“I’m not going, dad. I’m staying here.”
“I thought you wanted to leave?”
“I’m not going anywhere with you.” He pokes at a turd with his finger.
Later that evening at storytime he interrupts me, “Dad, I was thinking that in graveyards, they should have bells on top of tombstones attached to strings that you could pull from inside the coffin in case someone was buried by mistake.”
“Yeah, that way they could ring the bell and someone could come and dig them up.”
“Where did you hear about that?”
“Nowhere. I just thought it up.”
When I turn out the light, kiss him goodnight, and tell him I love him, he tells me in a quiet whisper, “I love you dad. I’m sorry about today. I don’t mean what I say when I’m angry. You’re the best dad in the whole world.”
“Thanks, Mark, I love you too.”