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News & Features » May 2017 » “A Good Butt-Slapping of a Good Time” by Kevin M Maher

“A Good Butt-Slapping of a Good Time” by Kevin M Maher

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, Kevin M Maher attempts to capture his endearingly mischievous son. 

A Good Butt-Slapping of a Good Time
by Kevin M Maher
Three years old 

“You go get him, I’m tired.”

“I got him last time, it’s your turn again.”

She was right, I just got him seven minutes ago, but it was my turn again. “Atticus!”  He can’t hear me, he never hears me. I yelled again, “Atticus!” All the while feeling self-conscious that other people in the park would start staring at me.  Staring at that parent that couldn’t control their child. Staring at the father yelling.

“He’s too far ahead, hurry faster,” my wife was now shouting at me.  We were a non-stop spectacle, we couldn’t walk anywhere without all of us yelling.

My own son shouting a non-sensical, “ee-yiiii, ee-yiiii!” Three-year-old autistics, without language, darting off impulsively, not responding to their name, no fear of repercussions, no awareness of social norms, and no fear of being lost. They just go, go, go.

“Atticus!  Come back here!” This was my attempt at ‘hey everyone, I’m adhering to social norms and giving instructions,’ although I knew he didn’t understand this, wouldn’t respond to this, couldn’t respond to this.  I continued with the acceptable conventions, “Atticus!  Get over here now!”

Trees to the sides, park benches on the paths, and couples enjoying each other’s company. Atticus about eight couples ahead of me. “Run, Kev, Run!”  Why does my wife have to yell at me, as I yell for the kid? Why do we have to go through this ritual each time we leave the house? Why couldn’t we have had all of this figured out by now?

“Ee-yiii, ee-yiii!” Then my son did the completely unacceptable.  The one thing I never would have imagined he would do. The thing I didn’t even think he had the sense of humor to contemplate. He put both of his hands up, went between a couple, and slapped them both on their butts.

My world went into slow-motion.  “NO! Atticus, STOP!” Time slowed down, and I could slowly see their respective bodies tighten-up, their butt cheeks clench, their arms extend downward frozen, fingers extended. Their heads turned around and down as they jerked their butts away from a hand’s touch. My son tore past between them, laughing his head off, “Ee-yiii, ee-yiii!”

I had to voice my disapproval, “Atticus, don’t do that!  No!” As Atticus continued, the respective couple saw the toddler butt-slapper, looked at each other, and laughed heartily. Their smiles were infectious, but I couldn’t break face. I had to look like I was mad at a normal kid, not an autistic one. “Atticus!” My mad angry face on, unable to make eye contact with the couple, I stared straight at the back of my son’s head, “Atticus! As I passed them, I gave them an apologetic nod.

As my boy continued, I saw more couples ahead. I saw him raise his hands again. I saw the butt contact again. I saw the fear and paralysis of more couples. I saw them look down and see a toddler, and break into laughter as well. I displayed my displeasure, “Atticus, No!”  The moment I passed each couple, I gave my apologetic nod, followed by a conscious effort not to burst out in laughter each time.

I turned around to see where my wife was at, as she shouted, “Get him, Kev!  Hurry!” I gave her back a frustrated look.  She communicated a little smirk, and I could see that sparkle in her eye that said, ‘This is damn ridiculous and funny!’

I shouted back, “I’m going to get him!” I kept my serious face on, “Atticus!”

Another butt-slap, another tense couple discovering it was a toddler butt-slapper, and more joyous laughter at the realization. For the next fifteen minutes I went into a slow jog, with an alternating “My apologies,” and “Atticus!”

When we neared the end of the park’s path, I ran into full sprint, knowing full-well that if he made it to the road, he’d continue on, unchecked, right into the traffic.  I grabbed him hard on the arm, “Atticus!  I told you stop!  Why didn’t you stop?”

I yelled at him until my wife caught up to us.  She shouted at me, “Make sure he doesn’t get away this time!”

“I won’t! I got him!”

We crossed the road, turned the corner, and laughed. “That was fricking hilarious!”  But I couldn’t laugh too hard, as I could feel I was losing my grip on Atticus’ arm, and on the city sidewalk, it was no longer the place to let him run free.



KEVIN M MAHER teaches at the University of Macau.  His first novel, No couches in Korea, is a 2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist in Travel (Non-Fiction), “chosen from over 2,250 individual entries, representing some of the best 2016 books from non-Big 5 publishers and authors.” Having lived in New York City for several years in the late 1990s, Kevin has spent most of his adult life living as an expat throughout Asia.  He has published various short stories in both South Korea and his current home in Macau.  Recently, his story, The Familiar of Macau, won the Script Road Literary contest and has been published in Chinese, Portuguese, and English. Check out, www.kevinmaher.com.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: May 2, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,