By Kia Morgan Smith
Lawd knows on a daily basis, I want to tie Jo-Jo down to a chair. My 2-year-old's blood has got to be brewing with snakes and snails, dragon-tails and a lil' bit of monster in the mix.
He's given my walls a new Crayola dÃ©cor. The walls I paid $1,500 to have painted, mind you. He breaks whatever he can get his hands on. He tortures his sisters by jumping on their backs and screaming Hi-YA! at the top of his lungs like his name is Jo-Jo Jackie-Chan.
His favorite word is No, and when he's done eating, he donates his food to the floor. It never fails. He seems to think the floor is starving for his leftover spaghetti, or his mashed-up peas or it's oh-so hungry for his barbecue chicken bones. I just cut my eyes and wipe his mess as Jo-Jo laughs at me like my name is boo-boo da fool.
The boy, this boy, sends my blood and whatever snakes and snails I've got coursing through my veins boiling. But he's a toddler. And although he challenges my fabulous mommy-ness, I expect him to be who he is terrible or occasionally terrific. After all, he's two.
So although I may want to tie him up. I never have and I never will. And I certainly would never, even in a moment of jest, tie him up with duct tape and take a picture of it. What crazy person would do that, right?
Enter Caira Ferguson from my hometown Philly. She thought it was ha-ha hilarious to wrap up her two-year-old in duct and put it around her mouth and feet drug-dealer-hostage-style.
The poor baby looks so pitiful sitting in the chair with no shirt and just a diaper on and I'm sure the baby didn't think it was funny at all. And neither did the cops. The 21-year-old mom was charged with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and child endangerment after she confessed to taping the baby girl to her little purple chair last summer.
She's now in jail and that momma's got some explaining to do. What started out as her showing the picture to authorities to prove that she was the victim of identity theft after her cell phone was stolen has resulted in her child being taken away from her, put into foster care and jail time for the obviously immature young mom.
And they say kids do the darndest things.
In the coming weeks I'm sure we'll learn about Caira's life the good, bad and ugly and if she was a fit or unfit mom. I won't go there and speculate, but I will say this. None of us are perfect parents. But there's a point, a line that we just don't cross when dealing with our kids. To me, if you cross that line you enter a zone where you can damage your child for the rest of their life. The rift and ripple in their life that you create as a child can manifest into a tsunami as an adult.
Abuse, whether verbal or physical, has long-lasting effects. And I'm not talking about an occasional whooping; I believe every little booty needs a boost to keep it in line from time to time. But Caira perhaps was too young, immature or just didn't care or even think that the duct-tape would have to come off. And if you've ever had duct tape on you, then you know when it's ripped off it stings just like your momma's leather strap.
I can't imagine how that baby must have screamed when the duct tape was being pulled from her tender skin and how piercing the pain and her screaming must have been. I can only shake my head and say that's a shame. A damn shame.
What else has this kid been subjected to in her two years of life? This child is two, so of course I'm sure she is a busy little bee like my Jo-Jo. And at 21-years-old, her momma probably doesn't have the patience or experience to engage her 2-year-old's craziness to cut down on her outbursts.
No matter how awful our kids can be, young moms have to do what they can to seek help. Call in grandma (if she's not at the club herself), or send your child to daycare. I think daycare saves a lot of kids lives. They are out of their momma's hair for a whole eight hours. And they learn something, get two healthy meals and get to play and be who they are without getting duct-taped to a chair as a consequence.
Yes our kids can drive us crazy, but there can't be two crazy people. Somebody's got to be the adult, be sensible, and lead the way. I hope Caira takes some parenting classes and I do hope she gets her child back. Maybe she just made the dumbest move of her life. I hope she's learned a hard lesson. Whatever the case, don't duct-tape the kids. Treat them good and raise them up right.
Because at the end of the day, when you're old and gray that same kid just might have a nagging old memory eating away at him, way back in their mind. And, you know what? Payback's a bitch.
Kia Morgan Smith, author of the delightful children’s book, Goony Goo-Goo and Ga-Ga Too, is a passionate and dedicated educator and former award-winning education reporter from Philadelphia. She has five kids and balances life like nobody’s business all of which she chronicles on her blog, CincoMom. She lives with her husband and their family in Atlanta.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.