My dad was my superhero for a variety of reasons. Among them, and one of my greatest memories of him, was when he stood up for a developmentally disabled girl in front of a dairy in Utica. The girl was being bullied by three, maybe four, other teenagers or kids…I was about 5 when I saw this unfold. My dad, who was barely taller than these kids, basically went up one side and down the other, in broken English, telling those kids to lay off the girl.
I always wondered what happened afterward. It was a moment in which my dad revealed his true super powers — by sticking up for someone in need.
My kids are almost 8. I have a while to worry about this, but I will tell you that my goal in being a parent is to instill the importance in my kids to stick up for each other. To stand up for themselves. To not fall into the allure of bullying.
I was terrible at being a bully but I got my stuff handed to me by my neighbor who told my superhero, dad, what I had done. I put my thoughts down in a note and she was sitting on my front porch, note in hand, just waiting for me. (Boy, did I get it!)
I also was guilty of ganging up on other kids at NYM as part of the crowd. So, if I ever gave you grief, I apologize.
This all came flying back to me last week when posted on a members-only page on Facebook was a portion of this text message… (I am withholding names) that a mother posted. Her son received this:
” bc every one ik has calles u a loser and ur stupid ok ur not koo ir never gamma b ok bc theres so many ppl who make fun of u even ur other froend jacob ok so shut up bc the froends u think u have think ur weird and stupod and plus emily and we were making fun of u all day and the day u asked her oit she told the whole bus and every one laughed and said what a loser so thinl aboit what u think”
I was blown away. Text message. It’s so easy to write these things, but would she change her words had she had to say them?
My initial reaction to the mom who posted this was “well, at least he knows she’s not a friend.”
But add ASD into the mix, and this gets very tricky on so many levels.
I was sad for the kids involved. Both. I know as a kid you sometimes hang out with others even if they treat you badly because you just want a friend.
I hope that I have taught my girls, and Theo too, to respect others no matter their differences. They are sons, daughters, loved ones… and they just want to be accepted.
We all do.
So, text or speak softly and with kindness, because you may have to eat those words someday.
Best of all, I learned later that the family is addressing these messages by dealing with the person who sent it. They have already addressed this with their son.
It’s times like this when I wish I can keep them little — that much longer.
Until next time…