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Ethan is a good son, usually. He does his homework when he’s told, he’s respectful of his elders, and he doesn’t usually throw tantrums when he does get in trouble. That’s why his behavior lately has been more than a little troubling for me…because it’s so out of character for him.

He’s been more interested in playing nintendo than completing all his assignments on time, so when I saw a D on his report card I knew the only option was to take away video games until he brought his grades back up. He didn’t argue, he didn’t yell, he just pouted and went to his room to cry quietly. I thought, he’s such a good boy, enduring his punishment with more dignity than I might have at his age. I wasn’t a spoiled 8 year old, but I was still trouble.

When I came downstairs later to find all the kitchen cabinet doors flung wide, drawers slung across the room, and all the dishes smashed on the floor I couldn’t believe my eyes. My son wouldn’t do this! But there was no one else in the house.

“It was Joshua, mommy! He’s mad that we can’t play Mario Kart anymore! He said you were a bitch and so he messed up the kitchen.”

I slapped his face, I’m ashamed to say it. I don’t like being physical with him, I actually loathe it, but I lost control. He not only called me a bitch, but he was blaming it on his imaginary friend. What was wrong with him? I’ve told him for years that Joshua doesn’t exist, but he insists that he’s real, and anytime Joshua doesn’t get his way, he lashes out in worse and worse ways.

Then last night I woke in the middle of the night to see Ethan standing over my bed, silhouetted against my window staring at me. I sat up, confused, before noticing the knife in his hand. “Ethan,” I screamed. “Put that knife away and go back to bed, right now!”

“But I am in bed, mommy,” I heard him call from across the hall.

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