In the line at the grocery store: the woman ahead of me had two boys with her. The larger boy, about 4 years old, was in the child seat and the smaller who looked to be a year or so younger was sitting in basket where groceries usually go. She had just a few items on the lowest shelf of the basket, below the little guys.
Something upset the older boy while she was unloading her items to the moving belt on the counter. He started yelling at her, at the world. Trying to use the safety belt to hold him in place just made him more agitated. Still yelling, he began to throw his upper body from side to side and back and forth. He balled up his fists and hit her. Grabbing his hands, she soothed him by telling him to be calm, be calm; that he was going to hurt himself; that she was holding his hands to keep him from hurting himself; to keep him from hurting "Mommie."
With one of her hands holding his at the handle of the basket, she bent down to get the last item from the lower shelf. While she stooped, he bent over and clamped down on her hand with his teeth. I heard her gasp and she let him go to clutch at her own hand. He went immediately still, staring at her.
She never raised her voice. She held him against her and whispered to him. Then she turned and finished paying for her purchases. Her face was blotchy with emotion and so was his.
I felt like mine should be, too. The cashier and the older man who was bagging for her both looked stunned.
I am still not sure if I witnessed a tantrum or a set of symptoms. And I still feel as if I should have done something. I just don't know what ...