Recently, I found my 2-1/2-year-old son sitting on our building doorstep, waiting for me to come home. He spotted me as I was rounding the corner and the scene that followed was one of inexpressible loveliness, right out of the film I’d played to myself before having a child, with him popping out of his babysitter’s arms and barrelling down the street to greet me. This happy moment, though, was about to be cut short and, in retrospect, felt more like a tranquil lull in a slasher film.
When I opened our apartment door, I discovered my son had broken part of the toy wooden garage I’d spent an hour assembling that morning. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that as I attempted to fix it, he grew impatient and began throwing its various parts at the walls, with one plank narrowly missing my eye. I recited the rules of the house (no throwing, no hitting). He picked up another large wooden plank. I ducked. He reached for the screwdriver. The scene ended with a time-out in his cot.