Good thing I’m not one for scrapping!
My son is an exceptionally bright young man. For the duration of this post, he will be referred to as John.
Rather than giving you details of the many ways in which he excels, let it be enough to say that his teachers have always remarked on how advanced he is intellectually; he’s creative and artistic as well; he draws, writes stories, and turns every game into a screenplay, probably because he wants to write and direct movies someday. Of course, that will come after he finds a way to implant some sort of microchip into the joints of people who can’t walk so that their own legs function similarly to an artificial prosthetic called the C-Leg.
John is constantly thinking, planning, creating and building things. He’s more interested in setting trends than in following them. He is extremely well spoken and articulate for his age, and his teachers and counselors often say that he is a “joy” to work with, commenting on how very “engaging” he is. He is an honor roll student who has already received several academic awards and commendations.
John is also sensitive, compassionate, well-mannered and respectful. He’s always willing and eager to help anyone who needs a hand. He tells the truth even when it might get him into trouble, and even if he could get away with lying.
As his mother, I’m probably biased, but many of these same observations have been made by uncountable people (often strangers he’s lent a hand to without being asked) throughout his life.
The trouble this creates for John is that he very rarely meets other kids his age who relate to him. If that’s not bad enough, he was actually picked on, made fun of, called names and even bullied for being “brainy” and attending the Gifted and Talented (GT) program last year.
Now that I’ve familiarized you somewhat with John, let me tell you about “them fightin’ words”.
A couple of years ago, I was invited to a get-together that was being hosted by the friend of a friend. Although everyone else’s kids would be there, my son wasn’t invited. Why? Well, my ‘friend’ said reluctantly, “[They] just think he’s kind of weird.”
Um? Did she really just say that? Does she think it’s OK to say that? Had it possibly slipped her mind that she was talking to the “weirdo’s” mother?
“But they really like you, [Lottie], it’s just… John…”
Are you fucking kidding me? I’m not going someplace where my son isn’t welcome because the people who invited me think he’s “weird”. If it had been an adults-only party, I could go along with that. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But that was not the case. They just didn’t want my child there. And yet they still invited me! And my ‘friend’ has the nerve to say this shit to me!
Why would anyone think that’s acceptable?
More recently, on a couple of occasions, two different neighbors felt the need to point out what they seem to consider some of John’s personality flaws. I didn’t understand what was being said to me at first, because it seems unthinkable that anyone would trash a child to his own mother just for the sake of it. But the more I listened and asked questions, the more I realized that the conversation I was having was initiated for the sole purpose of gossiping about my son and criticizing his personality.
Both of these women, who do not know each other or socialize together, approached me (one by phone, the other in person) on separate occasions to talk about how John does or says this, that or the other thing. Without going into detail, the things they mentioned didn’t sound like actual problems or anything bad; certainly nothing I would go to another kid’s parent about. They did seem annoyed, though.
But what exactly were they getting at? Did they want me to talk to John? Were they trying to tell me that he was no longer welcome at their homes?
Oh, no! Nothing like that! Not at all! The kids play very well together and they want John to feel welcome any time. And don’t say anything to him. No need to make him feel bad.
So then what? They just decided to ring me up or drop by to talk smak about my kid; to tell me how “weird” they think he is? And this is supposed to be OK? Keep in mind that these same people would come un-fucking-glued if someone started trashing their kids, even if there was an actual purpose involved!
Let me tell you something: if all you need to do is vent about someone else’s kid, do not go to that kid’s parent! Unless it’s an issue that the parent needs to address in some way, it is not acceptable to gossip about a child or criticize and insult a child’s personality to the child’s parent. At least not to this parent!
Unless I need to pay for something that was damaged, keep my child away from your child or your home or otherwise address a specific violation committed against you, your family or your property, you should not, under any circumstances, think that it’s OK to talk to me about how annoying, irritating or “weird” you think my child is. That will never be OK with me, and I don’t believe that any loving parent would find it acceptable.
In short: my husband, my son and I are a package deal. You don’t get to befriend me and openly reject, insult or belittle either of them. ‘Cause, lemme tell ya – them’s fightin’ words! Well, not literally, but I trust I’ve made my point.