I had one of those parenting days that run the full range of emotions. Concern, anger, frustration, sadness, it had it all. And not for the reasons you might think.
My son came home from school today not quite himself. When we got in the house I asked him if he was ok, and he kind of shrugged. Then I asked him if he needed a hug and he very quickly moved towards me with his arms open ready to be hugged. Being the intuitive Mom that I am, I deduced something had happened at school. While completely encompassing him in my arms I asked how his day at school had gone. He very quickly began to recount a shocking encounter he’d had on the play yard. And I stood, listening and hugging, shocked by what he had to endure.
Today my son experienced the reality of how people are treated when they are different.
My son is different. My son is very different. He’s an amazing foursquare player. He is a wicked mathematician. He’s an incredible threat on the pitch. (That means he’s a good soccer player.) He’s completely sensitive when it comes to young ladies, almost overly so. He’s a very loyal friend, no matter what’s at stakes. And he’s one of the cutest little love bugs you will ever meet. Those are just a few of the things that make him different. I like to think these are a few of the many things, which make him special. But there is a very obvious difference you’ll see when you look at my son. My son is beautifully bi-racial.
It took a long time for my son to see himself as different from others. At first what he noticed was that all his friends Mommies and Daddies lived in the same house. His Dad and I separated just after his first birthday, so his reality was that Mommies and Daddies live in separate apartments. In kindergarten he realized his hair wasn’t like anybody else’s. And he really liked it. He really liked that something about him was special, unique. A year later, he told me that he liked how much everyone liked his curly hair. “I love my curlys, Mommy. They help make me special, because no one else has them.” He was right. Not any of his friends had hair like him. Over the last year he’s experienced questions about why he looks the way he does. But it has been more curiosity than outright hurtfulness. What happened to him today, was just plain hurtful. Today a group of children told him he was stupid because he was different. Not only that, but they used a racial slur. I’m looking in my child’s eyes as he recounts this story to me, with a knot in my throat is so big I can barely breathe. I’m blinking at lightening speed to keep the tears from flooding my face. I’m so heart broken. Not only am I thinking about what must have been going through my son’s mind as this was unfolding, but I’m thinking about the loneliness, the fear, the anger he must have felt at others using one of the things about himself, against him in a completely, ugly and negative way. I’m crying typing this, because he is my little boy and this day was bad.
I know there is ugly in the world, and I know he has to learn it exists. But did he have to learn it today? Did the realities of the world we live in have to cross his path today? I dropped him off at school a happy young man so full of love and appreciation for the life he has, and today a small part of that changed. I’m very angry about it, but mostly I’m sad. What the f*#&ing pickles is all I can muster.