I remember once, when Avery was about eight, I was standing with him at the door of his closet. I was trying to make him do something. I think it was about getting ready to go somewhere or possibly about picking up. I never seem to be able to get the details straight because so many memories are similar that they intrude on each other. I just know that he was not listening to me, at all. I was bending over, holding him by the shoulders, speaking as earnestly as I could, and he would not listen. It’s not like he was arguing; he wasn’t even bothering to let my words into his ears.

I remember feeling frazzled, pressured, and impatient. Whatever I was trying to get him to do, I felt like I would be in trouble if he didn’t do it. So, in an effort to get his attention, since speaking face to face wasn’t working, I slapped him. He slapped me right back. It was one of the biggest shocks I have ever had. I would never have had the gall to slap an “authority” at his age, no matter how unjust they were being. No matter whether they had slapped me too.

I was so shocked, and offended, that I slapped him again. I don’t remember if he got in a second slap, I imagine he did. By that time I came to my senses. I apologized immediately. Being slapped by him was one of the most humiliating things that has ever happened to me, because I very much deserved it. I knew that he was in the right, defending himself against my anger. I don’t think I really got his attention, but he definitely got mine.

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