Friday, November 23, 2007

Fear and loathing

While I lamented the endless screaming that accompanied Graham’s trip to the doctor earlier this week, I neglected to mention one rather important outcome of the visit.

Graham has an appointment with a pediatric orthopedic specialist next month.

He has an appointment because he is pigeon-toed and by that I mean that his toes point in, causing his legs to flail out like little windmills when he walks and especially when he runs. And while that is a relatively common condition among two-year-olds, the doctor agreed that further scrutiny would be wise given that it is quite severe in his case.

He might grow out of it, but it’s best to get it looked at and see if it can be corrected before he gets older, she said. You don’t want other kids making fun of him.

Her words stopped me cold.

Making fun of him. Other kids. Making fun of my Graham.

It is terrifying, this thought that anyone could possibly reject the gifts my precious child offers. That anyone could diminish him just for being so wonderfully, uniquely himself.

Years ago a co-worker talked to me of his two teenage daughters. They are identical twins, but one was more outgoing and was thus considered prettier and more popular by their peers. They had come home from a dance in tears, he said, after the extroverted one informed her quieter sister that the young man she last danced with had made gagging faces behind her back to the amusement of the other kids.

I’d like to **@$#** kill that kid, he said. I’d like to rip his *%#@** face off.

I remember being surprised by his vehemence, by the rage in his face. But now that I’m a parent I understand it completely.

We will send our children out into the world and the world will sometimes be unkind – it is ever thus. But still, the idea that the apple of your eye, the heart of your heart, will be rejected or humiliated even, and that you are powerless to stop it, is sometimes too much to bear.

I imagine my Graham, running joyously out into the world with his dear, little legs flapping like windmills. I imagine his peers laughing and him stopping short, blinking in surprise to have been met with ridicule and derision.

And just the mere imagining of it produces a frustrated, impotent rage that gnaws at my chest like a demon possessed.

But in addition to my rage there is fear.

There is fear because despite having endured this and this, I’m afraid that the very hardest part of parenting still lies ahead.

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S said...

Oh, yes. It IS tough to watch your child being teased. Really, really tough. (Or even someone else's kid.)

Tougher still, I think, is to avoid rushing to the child's defense, because, as sad as it is, a large part of growing up is learning to fight your own battles.

We're lucky in that our boys haven't been teased persistently or cruelly yet. Ben, at ten, is rather oblivious to social nuance, which I find myself incredibly grateful for. If he IS being teased, I think it goes right over his head.

And I envy him that!

Tania said...

I'm already fearful of the mean girls in jr. high (surely my daughter won't be one of them).

Shauna said...

Ah yes, this post spoke to my heart. I can remember being occasionally teased or picked on. I can remember people saying hurtful things to me and surely I did some not so savoury things myself.

It bothers me like crazy that my own little angel will most certainly experience the same thing.

Karen MEG said...

I was picked on a lot as a kid; skinny, gawky, smaller ... I'm glad that so far my son has lots of friends of varying ages so he's doing OK, certainly a lot more popular than I was at his age. But he's still amazingly vulnerable and sensitive.
It's pretty strong, that maternal instinct to protect your children from the ills of the world. That will certainly be the challenge of balancing our urge to protect, with our desire to see them grow up as independent adults.
Great post.

b*babbler said...

Oh how this parenting breaks our hearts over and over again.

Sweet little windmill legs.

Mandy said...

I see your little man is the same age as mine (My EB was born in February 05). Like you, it breaks my heart to think that someday he will have to endure that part of life. Kids can be so very cruel. If only they could appreciate everyone's differences. But I totally feel you on this wonderful post you made.

newduck said...

You are fierce!!! I'm reading your blog for the first time and I love it!

Dayna said...

Oh. I so get this. I so so so get this. I can remember thinking I was never going to tell anyone about the kids disease because they might be teased. Of course, I figured out that wasn't going to work.

My oldest was recently the victim of a bully totally unrelated to his disease, and it broke my heart to hear him tell the story. Frankly, I wanted to tell him to kick the kids ass. It just killed me.

In fact, reading this makes me think I'll blog about that experience - maybe other parents will get what we went through hearing our son talk about it.

Leslie said...

Bullying... you never want your kids to be the recipient - and then one day out of nowhere they are... one of my kids was an all-state athlete, president of her class- Sophomore, Junior and later her Senior year, and an award winning student (I don't say this to gloat only to make a point) -- and it took only a moment for her best friend to turn on her and before she knew it, she was the victim of that horrible, girl, stab -you-in the back, debillitating bullying. The pain cut so deep.... and as a parent you NEVER want your child to feel that pain.. and she was not the type of kid that "stereotypically" gets bullied. Eventually and over time things have returned to normal but not without a lot of work on both mine and the other girl's mother (I eventually after months had to step in), and my daughter speaking out publicly against bullying. It seems the issue never goes away - and it is not a "right of passage" that any child should have to endure.

Kayris said...

A few weeks ago, my three year old son wanted to sit next to a certain little boy at the library story hour. The little boy lives down the street and although they are not friends in the usual sense of the word, I guess when you are three, if you know someone, that makes them your friend. Anyway, this little boy kept moving away from my son and making faces. My son was oblivious to what was going on, but my heart was breaking as I watched. That little mean boy was only three, but I wanted to shake him and tell him to be nice to my precious boy.