A Child Called It Chapter 3 - Bad Boy Summary

As a small child, David gets into mischief. Although his brothers are often doing the same "bad" things, David's punishments were more severe. His mother's actions and attitude shift, and he became afraid of her. She smashed his face against a mirror and was made to stand there, looking at himself, and repeating "I am a bad boy." She also began to make the boys, and finally just David, search for things she supposedly lost in the house. One day he forgot what he was searching for and when he timidly asked her, Catherine punched him in the face without taking her eyes from the television. David also says he can tell it will be a bad day by the way she is dressed. If she gets dressed, it will be a good day. Other days she stayed on the couch, in her robe, drinking and watching television. School is a pleasant escape for David. He makes friends easily and gets good grades. One day Catherine tells him that he is being held back because he was a "bad boy." He is made to repeat 1st grade for no apparent reason. Catherine beats, kicks, punches, burns him, tortures, and verbally abuses David. When summer vacation comes around, David's favorite place to go, he is sent to stay at his aunt Josie's house for the summer. He tries to run away and when she finds out, she beats him. As he is trying to tell her that he was only running away because he wanted to be with his family, and surprisingly, with her, Catherine shoves a bar of soap in his mouth. At school, David is now with his younger brother Stan in the first grade, which makes him happy. David's father is also a source of safety and comfort. When he is home, he takes to following him around the house. When the holidays come around, Catherine says she received a letter from Santa saying he has been a bad boy. The only presents he has under the tree are two paint-by-number sets that his dad bought for him. Later he hears Catherine yelling at his father for going behind her back and buying him a present. David felt he was losing the battle. When she forces David to strip naked and stand by the stove, David decides to become a survivor. She burns his arm badly and then tells him to lie on the stove so she could watch him burn. He bides his time, knowing his brother would soon be coming home. When his brother is there, or other people, she would not act so extreme, so he stalls and stays alive. He feels he won that fight and learns that he is a survivor. He has to be strong if he ever wants to beat her at her own game.

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