388 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 3 MAY 2018
what he was doing, but I lost sight of him when he got out in front of three
girls skating arm-in-arm. When I finally got out onto the ice, I could not see
River. I could see a little crowd at the far end.
I skated as hard as I could and when I arrived, out of breath, River was
being pulled off of a girl who was on her back, her little hands covering her
face, the pink mittens pathetically poor protection from River’s flailing. She
was screaming and crying and then was in her dad’s arms as soon as
another guy yanked River off her, setting him down sternly and far away.
I threw my own mittens to the ice, shouting to River to come to me, my
fingers shakily finding the speed dial for my boss. As I was getting the necessary
in-the-moment permission to restrain River, parents were shouting
at me to “come get your kid” and “what the hell are you doing on your
phone?” They cursed me.
River skated away before I’d gotten permission, laughing and swearing,
taunting me. Parents held their kids close to them as he powered past them
towards the exit gate.
When I caught up with him I was vibrating like a plane’s engine revving
up for takeoff. I never did catch him on the ice. He skated off and clumped
over to the hot chocolate stand, yelling at me that he wanted one. He was
completely unable to hear or absorb a lecture, but I gave one anyway, then
promised a hot chocolate once his skates were off. Bribery always works.
I really tried to keep a calm voice and let him know that we would work
on how to keep the anger monster from growing inside him again when we
got home. I don’t know if I succeeded. My face was burning with shame and
my voice shook with anger. I was relieved he was off the ice. I was also
afraid I would be unable to get him into the car to go back to the care facility
that is his home. River is as tall as my shoulder and pretty hefty. Sometimes
I think he is stronger than me.
I did get him into the car with a promise of ice cream after Lego this afternoon.
River took his seat belt off in the car. He tried to open the back doors
and threw himself against both back doors and my headrest when he realized
I’d activated the child safety locks. My shoulder still aches where he bit
me as I was pulling into the driveway. I got out of the car and stood for a full
five minutes, River screaming in the back seat, trying to return my breathing
As soon as I opened his door, he ran. He took off across the lawn and
down the block, yelling “Cherry is a f…ing bitch! Cherry is a cow!” all the
way. I caught up with him two blocks down, just as he was running onto the
street into the path of a truck that was only a quarter block away. An elderly
man in a parka watched intently, all the while gripping a bench for stability,