I asked Erik what happened, not really expecting an answer. He stated very matter of factly that a little boy (who shall remain nameless in the interest of preventing vigilante justice) had scratched him at school.
When we arrived at school the next day, we were greeted by apologies that we had not received a phone call about the incident. Because Erik's teacher has been terrific about calling me about Erik's accomplishments and occurrences in the classroom, I reassured her that I was not upset. The teacher confirmed the very boy Erik named had scratched him while they were both standing in line at the sink to wash their hands. When confronted, the boy had apparently confessed, but an adult hadn't seen exactly what occurred.
I sometimes witness Erik standing too close to other children, making them visibly uncomfortable, perhaps asking them a hundred times what their name is, despite the fact he was in their class last year, or attempting to spark a conversation by emitting animal noises. He often doesn't understand that he is surrounded by a tough crowd and continues on with his act, which is sometimes quite painful for me to watch. Some children simply walk away. If they know their parents are watching, they will often stand still and attempt to be polite, but I can easily see their true feelings just underneath the surface. Children are much too honest to hide much for very long. At this age, they are beginning to be slightly cruel and very competitive, loudly pointing out Erik's differences to others to pad their own budding sense of self. The more curious ones ask me questions about Erik's behavior, and I am slowly getting used to providing simplified answers. There are some who don't like having someone who is so different pressing his nose directly against theirs.
In this case, what happened will remain a mystery.
Maybe this child accidentally scratched my son with an unruly hand making a sudden, uncontrolled motion. Maybe he was throwing a tantrum of his own. Or maybe he waited until the adults weren't watching and hurt the strange kid who just refused to get out of his face. In any case, Erik undoubtedly loves this kid today every bit as much as he did a week ago.
And I suppose that is one of the things that makes my son so "strange" and "different."