I knew what had happened even before I saw the thin strands of blonde hair poking out from between his fingers. As for the rest of the wad, it was trapped inside his chubby little fist.
“Oh my god Jack, what did you do?”
The answer was obvious of course but, under the watchful eye of the other parent, I had to yell at my two-year-old monster. It was the least I could do.
“I pull Thomas hair mummy,” he beamed.
“Why did you do that?”
“I pull hair mummy.”
“Yes but why Jack, why?”
I prayed for him to give me some sort of explanation because I really didn’t want to leave the park feeling nauseous with embarrassment.
“I pull hair. I make Thomas cry mummy. Look.”
He opened his hand to reveal his treasure. There was enough hair there to cover his grandpa’s bald patch.
We hadn’t had a play date with Thomas and his mum for about eight weeks. She was one of those mummy-friends who was busy with other mummy-friends, swimming lessons, yoga, messy music, toddler group and breastfeeding support. Still, on the rare times I did she her, it was nice to have some company.
Thomas’s mummy clung to her boy as if his whole life had flashed before her eyes.
“I didn’t mean to shout at him Becky but really, he just wouldn’t let go. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she rubbed his tender head. “I think Thomas is okay now but that really was awful for me to see.”
She’d obviously never visited a nursery at snack time then. I gritted my teeth.
“I’m so sorry, it’s really unlike him.” Tiredness, I could blame it on tiredness. “He usually has a nap after lunch but wouldn’t settle today, so I don’t think that’s helped.”
Thomas by now had stopped crying but was understandably keeping his distance from Jack, who was inappropriately belting out Frozen’s hit song Let It Go. Everyone always jokes about the ‘terrible twos’ but it was probably a bit early for me laugh about this.
Most of the time Jack is a good boy; he sits at the table, says “pweese” and “fank yoo” and helps me to tidy-up. All said and done though, he attacked another child – didn’t he?
They always blame it on the mother. They will judge me and say it’s how he has been brought up – or dragged up – run my name out of town and criticise my lack of decent parenting skills:
“She never took him to the new toddler group.”
“Would have done him the world of good I reckon.”
“I bet she gives him chocolate biscuits for breakfast and lets him watch kids TV all day.”
To be fair, I don’t give him choccy-biscuits for breakfast every day but perhaps five hours of television yesterday didn’t help with today’s hair-pulling incident. I wonder, did he see it on In the Night Garden?
There was a full thirty minutes left of the play date but I cut it short. I’m not sure who was more relived – me, Thomas or Thomas’s mum.
As I walked home holding hands with my monkey-turned-King-Kong I lost all enthusiasm for the day.
My little man chatted all the way back to our house but I was seething too much to make conversation. Typically he was being adorable, pointing out every thing we had talked about on the way there.
“Look both roads mummy. Be careful mummy. Wave at man in house mummy. Oh kitty-kat in garden mummy. Mummy. Mummy?”
Once we got inside, I hit the kettle (I would have loved to replace kettle with bottle). Jack meanwhile busied himself with his dinosaur toys.
As I sat down with my hands hugging the mug, one sole tear plonked down into the brew.
I looked into Jack’s tiny face and wondered how such a sweet boy could turn into the devil child without a moment’s warning.
He pointed at my tea.
“Yes Jack, splash.”
He opened his hand and placed what was left of Thomas’s hair on to my knee.
“I not pull Thomas hair anymore mummy. I not pull any body hair anymore. Make peoples sad. Make peoples cry.”
He affectionately patted my knee.
The remaining strands of hair fell to the floor and rested next to where he had left his favourite spinosaurus toy by my feet.