I cried on Sunday. I wept and sobbed and I couldn’t stop. I hadn’t cried like this in a long time. Not since the first three months after Amelia was born. I realize now that each day after her birth I was becoming stronger and understanding more about her and her syndrome. But I cried this last weekend because this hurt was fresh and raw. I knew it was going to eventually happen but I still wasn’t emotionally prepared when it did happen. And believe it or not it happened twice in three days. But the second time it happened, I became stronger and could think logically about the event and how to prepare our family for the next time it happens. And the many times after that. Because it will happen again. But the first is always the hardest…

On Sunday our town had a fall festival. It was a beautiful day. Nate and Mia painted pumpkins and Joey, enjoying his freedom of being eleven, walked around with his cousins and friends. Joey checked in with me every now and then but for the most part, couldn’t wait to go off alone. The next day I received a phone call from my sister-in-law explaining how Joey had been bullied from a classmate. She explained the teasing and taunts and how Joey did not say anything back. This was not the first time he had been in an argument with this child and we had told him to walk away and ignore him. But she ended the conversation with the phrase that ripped though me and brought me to physically lose control.

 

“You are a retarded idiot like your sister. You have that retarded gene that she has and that is why you are so stupid in school.”

 

I ran into his room and demanded to know why he didn’t tell me what had happened. Shocked, he asked me how I knew. Sobbing, shaking, and screaming, I realized why he didn’t tell me and that made me cry even more. He was protecting ME!

 

 In the heat of the moment, I told him he should have done things that I have never told him to do before. I told him he should have gotten physical and pushed and punched and… and then I stopped, walked away, and cried alone in my room. I stopped because of the look on his face. His expression appalls and sickens me when I think back to my initial reaction. You see, we call Joey our “Gentle Giant” and I admire him for this. He is kind and loving towards others and here I was, trying to change him because I was hurt. I can’t help but think about the story, “Dragon Mom,” from the New York Times. Besides the fact that I was breathing fire, I was trying to shape my child to become something he was not. It was at this moment I learned from him how to handle the heartbreak we will endure because of people’s ignorance. “I am a reflection of him, and not the other way around and this is, I believe, as it should be.”

 

 

 I know how cruel kids can be to each other. The boy’s mother apologized many times. I knew it didn’t matter. There were no words that were going to make me feel better. There were no words that were going to be able to make Joey feel better. Only time and reflection helped me. But questions constantly entered my thoughts: Why did they have to use THAT word? What did Amelia ever do to anybody but love them?

 

 

 

Each of my children has shaped me into the parent I am today. And each has taught me so many valuable lessons about life, humanity, and most importantly, love. I hope I can become a reflection of Joey to handle these situations (that make me want to physically injure someone) with tolerance and patience. I hope I can become a reflection of Nathan to welcome people with a warm smile and a friendly conversation. And I hope I can become a refection of Amelia to love others unconditionally regardless of how she is treated or what she is called by others.

 

 

 

“We are dragon parents: fierce and loyal and loving as hell. Our experiences have taught us how to parent for the here and now, for the sake of parenting, for the humanity implicit in the act itself, though this runs counter to traditional wisdom and advice.”

For those of you interested, here is the link to the article! We are all Dragon Parents!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/opinion/sunday/notes-from-a-dragon-mom.html

 

 

Joey, our gentle giant, voluntering for the “Challenge Soccer” team.

 Nathan, our social butterfly, is always making people smile!

Amelia, our gentle and quiet thinker, posing for the camera!

 

14 Responses to Words

  1. Laurie says:

    I cried reading this; those words were definitely hard to hear. You are an exceptional mother, Chrissy, with exceptional boys to show for it. They will lead this world in a new direction one day with their spirit of kindness and acceptance. xo

  2. taylorbug says:

    This made me sad but I needed to read this. I have been holding anger in my heart towards a guy that goes to school with my oldest daughter Chelsea. He made the comment to some other kids at her school that “Chelsea’s little sister is not cute and looks weird”. I wanted to go punch him! Everytime I see him all I can think about is what he said but NOW Everytime I see him, I am going to think about your post. I am proud of your son! Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I also cried reading this. I am so sorry. I am not prepared for how I will react when this happens. I hope I too can channel Joey. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Autumn says:

    This is beautifully written. How proud you must be of your boys! What your son experienced is one of the things that scares me about our future with Ty. I hope I can handle it as well (and non-violent!) as Joey did.

  5. kerin colby says:

    Chrissy- I have to say I didn’t know you well when we were younger but I feel like I know you a lot better now through your blog and fb posts. I think you are an incredible human being. I read this and it stirred all sorts of emotions in me- first sadness, those words crushed my heart like Mia was my own. Second, anger- like I wanted to stuff a bar of soap in that bully’s mouth. And lastly, happiness- I was happy that you could turn something so ugly into something so beautiful.
    That really takes an incredible person.

  6. Michelle Gainey says:

    Tears are still streaming Chrissy! You are one of the greatest mother’s I’ve ever encountered!
    Those are some very hard words to swallow. And through time, we all learn that we can’t fix everyone’s ignorance. Your boys will be great men and even greater father’s. You are doing a wonderful job!

  7. Kristy says:

    Chrissy, I cried while reading this. What horrible words to hear. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. This post was beautifully written and I thank you for sharing. You have beautiful and loving children and should be so very proud that you are their mother. Hugs.

  8. Kristen says:

    Chrissy…. my heart breaks for yours as I read this post. First – you are an amazing mother. Amazing. I look to you for inspiration all the time. Second, you are raising such wonderful children. I’ve met them … they really are great. And finally… think of how many lives you might have touched by sharing this story. You and your family are amazing. I’m so sorry for your pain…. it was like it came right off the page. We love you. Kristen

  9. Sheral Jackson says:

    Chrissy, I cried while reading this as well! I think I would have reacted the same way and I would hope I would have been able to stop myself as you did! You, Joey, Mia & your boys are an amazing family! Joey is what every person (not only children) should be!
    Thanks for the Dragon Mom link, I’m going to read it!
    Lots of Love ~
    Sheral

  10. Mihaela says:

    Oh… I gasped when I saw that sentence and then I cried. This hasn’t happened to us (yet), but I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the moment it does. How do you do that though? How do kids get so cruel and mean? I wish I could undo that experience for you and for everyone that have been bullied. Be strong, you have a wonderful son, there’s a lot to be learned from him. Hugs to you and him, and little Amelia too.

  11. Patti B. says:

    I was so moved by your story that I featured it in my Best Blogger Pay it Forward piece.
    http://www.allinadaysquirks.com/2012/01/piff-x-2-os.html
    I’m curious as to how this has turned out for you. I’ll watch your blog for updates. Best wishes to you and your family.

  12. shirley bidnick says:

    Wow! The wow is for what happened, but the exclamation mark is for how you told us about it. Ignorance and cruelty exist. I have wasted a great deal of energy being angry when others treat Rochelle disrespectfully. I shield her as much as I can, but I have to accept that I can’t control how others think and behave. I want the word retard to be removed from our vocabulary, but that’s not going to happen soon. I know a man who is a well respected leader in his church, who tells his daughter who is developmentally delayed, to stop acting like a retard, when he wants to correct her behavior. I have told him this is wrong, but he can’t see it. He defends his behavior. All you, your sons, and I can do is choose to think and behave differently, and feel good about our choice.

  13. Letty says:

    That is terrible….kids can be so cruel. I hope that I have as much strength as you when this happens to me. My daughter who is 13 is not a physical person, had posted a picture of Nathaniel before his lip was repaired sometime last year and apparently, there was a boy who posted an ugly comment. She and I were going through her facebook pictures and the comments attached to the pictures. Now, I was being a little nosy (of course) and she suddenly put her hand on the screen. I got upset because I thought she was hiding something from me. Turns out, she was….she was hiding that comment. She finally moved her hand and explained what and why she did what she did. Same thing, she was protecting me. I’m a HUGE crybaby!!! She told me that she found out who it was the following day at school and she went up to him and punched him in the face. He was shocked and didn’t understand why. She told him not to EVER say anything bad about her little brother or he would get it worse. I was relieved but worried because of course she shouldn’t do that, but what if this happens again. She can’t fight the world. My 16 year old son who is 6’3″, 230lbs, a sophmore in high school, plays football and wrestles is the same way……so not a fighter. But if tempted would definatly do some damage. I worry that he’ll react the same way. His friends were aware of how Nathaniel would be born, so they weren’t too shocked. None-the-less, I’m sure there will be some snarls in the future. The only thing that matters is that he’s perfect to us.

  14. thara says:

    Letty- Most kids arent cruel not deliberately. And, in most cases, the parents are to blame and should be scolded.

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