I remember it like it was yesterday. Actually, it was only a couple of weeks ago, but seriously, with the current state of this Momma's mom-brain, that's a win. Anyway, here's how it went down:
Scene: It's after dinner. Micro is asleep early for once! Small and Mini are playing nicely, and Geegy is napping in front of the TV. Momma decides to take advantage of the free-hands time to eat a delightful snack of milk and cookies, an endeavor that requires two hands.
Momma: Minions, I'm getting some milk and cookies. Would you like some?
Mini (jumping up and down): YES!YES!YES!
Small: Well, ok, but only one. I'm trying to eat healthy.
Let me explain something right quick. Small is skinny. He is so skinny, that he has no butt. Pants with elastic adjustments and paired with belts routinely fall off his tiny "waist." When he was a baby, he was consistently in the 95th percentile for his height, and the 25th for his weight. When he was four, he thanked me for his new shorts. Shorts that he was wearing. Shorts that were actually Mini's size 2T sweat pants. Terms like "stick" and "bean pole" don't apply, because those things are not skinny enough. We buy "slim" pants, and still have to take in the waistband. Skinny jeans are baggy on Small. Get it?
Not only is Small skinny, but he is also only 8 years old. And a boy. Now, I would be appalled to hear my 8 year old daughter say she needed to diet. I was absolutely horrified to hear it coming from my BOY'S mouth! Calmly, I asked him why he thought he needed to diet, while my brain wrecklessly tore through the last couple of months, desperately trying to figure out where he heard me complain about my weight, or needing to diet. I was only slightly relieved when he said, "Two girls at school said I was fat and I need to go on a diet."
Ok, whew, it wasn't me.
But seriously, what the heck?!?
I mean, it's bad enough that kids these days are having to grow up faster than ever. They are exposed to things at school that I would never allow at home. And I have had some serious issues at the Minions' school when it comes to bullies and inappropriate classroom behavior. But really? Do I REALLY have to teach my 8 year old, super skinny son, that he is NOT FAT?
I want my boys to be confident. I want them to be happy with who they are. I want them to feel comfortable and special BECAUSE of who they are, not in spite of it. I am actually quite glad that it is now summer, and they won't have to be around those kids, the ones that ridicule and cause others to feel bad just because they can. And when I hear these things, it takes all my self control to not go to that classroom and get all up in those kids faces, and tell them just what I thought of them and their little attitudes.
This is new territory for me. I thought that if I gave the Minions all the tools for self-confidence at home, that it would carry over into the world, and that words like that would just roll off of them. I thought that if they could be kind and sharing and be able to solve problems with each other in the home, it would be easier to do so with friends and classmates. I thought that if they had good friendships with great kids outside of school, they would be more interested in playing with the great friends they already have, rather than trying so desperately to "fit in" with the kids that only mock them for trying.
The problem isn't just that he is now feeling insecure, and focusing on parts of himself that others perceive as being a problem. The additional problem is that now he is starting to ridicule Mini, and calling him fat, and saying mean things just because. And honestly, I can't stand it. I despise that kind of talk, and that kind of treatment of others. I absolutely DO NOT want it in my home! When I hear it, especially between brothers, I want to rip those words out of their brains with my bare hands and set them on fire. I get sick at the thought of my Minions really believing that tripe that the ugly, cruel and cynical parts of the world want them to feel about themselves. And the problem is that the caring, courteous and carefree little genius that graces our home is getting harder and harder to find.
Instead, I have a son who comes home from school and ridicules his younger brother for every. Little. Thing. I have a son who is can't be proud of winning a gold medal with his hockey team, because he's not good at playing soccer with the kids in the playground. I have a son who won't eat the special treats I secretly put in his lunch box some days because some kids that are on the "free lunch" program make fun of him for having treats that they don't get. I have son who won't do his class work because students who aren't as fast call him names when he gets it done before them. I have a son who is boisterous and disruptive in the classroom, and rude to his teacher, because being "funny" and getting in trouble for it is the only way these
As a parent, I know all the "right" things to say. Intellectually, I know what I "should" say, and how to bolster him, and how to behave so that he can learn by example and blah blah blah. But I'm unsure how to really, truly get through to him, to help him be that confident person that can rise above the negativity. I don't know how to make my voice louder and more important than the ones outside our home. I don't know that anything I can say will help him, because I was once him. In many ways, I am still him. I'm not sure that I will ever NOT be that person. And if I can't teach myself how to be confident and self assured, how will I ever teach it to my Minions?
|That's rhetorical. I don't have the answer to that.|
And maybe, just maybe, I can remind myself of that as well. Again.