Bounce, bounce, bounce, goes the ball. Hitting the patio, over and over again.
It’s not me. It’s not my son. Despite it being the hottest day of the year so far, we are locked up, inside the house.
“You’re clever and intelligent but sometimes you do stupid things. Don’t do the stupid thing today.” The ball bouncer tells me. Did he always talk to me like this? Or is it now he’s lost all control that he tries his best to claw it back at random moments?
He’s not my problem, I try to remind myself. He has a new wife.
I put Thomas the Tank Engine on the laptop, try to distract my son from the reality around him.
Wham, wham, wham, goes the ball. Slamming the window, over and over again.
The messages started last night. Adultery and fornication the topic of the evening. Words straight out of the bible it seemed. I felt sorry for him. Sad that he was entering an inevitable psychosis*. Worried what it would mean for his long term mental health (every psychosis is another trauma to recover from and each time it gets harder). I was concerned whether his new wife would know what to do. Would she know how to handle him? How to help him? The irony. Clearly I never handled him right, or helped him properly, or we wouldn’t all be here now. I did keep him alive though, and at times that felt like a huge achievement.
Three years since the breakup and he’s still affecting our daily lives. Us upstairs, sweating in the house with all the windows shut. Him outside bouncing that bloody ball, over and over again.
The sound is menacing. Not quite a threat, but not a friendly approach either. Then again. If you’ve scaled a fence to get into the garden I don’t suppose you’re going for ‘normal social conventions’.
The police drove past. I thought they were coming to my house, I had called them after all. I crouched down to my son’s level.
“Baby, the police are going to come here.” I told him as gently as I could. He already knew something was up. All those strange things his father was shouting, the banging on the door, he’d been crying as I’d taken him away, out of sight.
“Why?” he asked perplexed. His big brown eyes wider than ever.
“Because daddy is ill.” Was all the reasoning I could muster up.
“Why?” He asked again.
If only I had an answer for that one.
I had never wanted to cry so much in all my life. I couldn’t do it to him though; this boy must not see me cry, not at this moment. That is the one thing I knew, the only thing I knew in amongst the madness. I must be strong for him. My tears can come later.
The innocence of my baby boy disappeared in that instance. He already knew about the police. We live in an estate that sees quite a lot of police action. If you ask my son where he lives he would tell you, “Baker street**, two shootings and one leak” I dread to think what he actually thought was the reason for the police coming for his own father.
How could I do this to my precious little boy?
Because I had no choice.
The police eventually came and our guest was escorted out. Now starts another round of social services involvement. Monitoring from the nursery and check ups with the health visitors. Just what a stressed out single mum needs. (Not that I’m blaming the SS, they are doing their job, I think we all know who I’m angry with in this scenario).
My son is fine. I keep reminding myself of that. He’s bubbly, he’s active and he’s generally very happy. However, there are days when I fear what effect this is all having on him. There have been days since then, when my son asks me over and over again if I love him. It’s easy to read things into the fleeting thoughts and words of children and I’m trying not to take it to heart. Yet the incessant repeating of this question makes me fear my son’s own fears, and I can’t help but think our unwanted guest has something to do with it.
*I was wrong on this point it seems, I don’t think he has had another psychosis since then. He was elated, which is the stage before psychosis but to my knowledge it didn’t progress further.
**Not the name of my actual street. And also not an accurate description either, technically it’s three shootings, two stabbings and one leak.