Sticks, Stones, & Laughter

It was a glorious rainy day last Wednesday.  My favorite kind of weather - a steady rain, enough chill in the air to actually dress for fall, just a perfect day.  Ellie had been up most of the night (thank you, ear infection) but I still managed to get the kids up, fed, dressed, & out the door in order to arrive at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) a few minutes early.  
But, as I was putting on Will's zancos, I realized I had somehow forgotten an inner liner to one leg.  It apparently fell out of the zanco as I rushed to the car.  I was furious at myself.  I had never done that.
(However, a few days before, we went to the zoo with new friends - (hi Nicole!) & for the first time, I forgot a shoe!  We only had one tennis shoe in the car!  I put Will's cleats on from soccer which were in the car but those combined with the slippery ground from rain made him fall lots... I tried to have him go "barefoot" without zancos but he couldn't walk on the cobbly ground, so he went in his zancos "barefoot" - which also meant lots of falls as they really aren't designed to go without shoes.  And also, they are now stained black. Ugh - I was so mad at myself & Nicole & her kids were so gracious to deal with my scatterbrain & the numerous falls... Sorry, Nicole!)

Anyway, combined with the shoeless event on Monday, I was so irritated at myself.  I asked Will if he would mind skipping zancos & just go barefoot to his class.
He said he didn't want to do that.  He was afraid that if the kids saw his "real feet they will laugh at me." He said he was afraid they would say he looked funny.
I said ok.  I respected his decision and I knew I couldn't go into his class to beat up intervene politely if anyone so much as made a funny face at him.
So I shut the car door. 
I stood in the rain and I cried.
Then I gathered both kids - one on each hip (Ellie doesn't walk yet and of course, Will couldn't walk barefoot on the cobbly parking lot), in the rain, & I made my way inside.  (Anyone out there attend our local BSF & know where handicapped parking is?!??!  I couldn't find it and that is a long walk for a kid in zancos -or his mama when she has to carry both in!)
As we got inside, I was near tears again and asked the greeter if I would be allowed to leave, go home for the liner, & return.  She said of course and was very gracious to what must have appeared to be a woman about to go over the edge.
So, I returned to the car, in the rain, while carrying both kids - a combined weight of nearly 50 pounds.
(Plus - I was trying to keep the umbrella over Ellie so that her tape wouldn't get wet - I certainly couldn't retape her in time for BSF nor did I have my supplies.)
We loaded back up and headed home.
Suddenly, Will began to pray.  He does this a lot in the car and I love listening to him talk to God about whatever is on his mind.
Typically, it's about which toys God has in Heaven for him and what they are eating there.
Except this time, he asked God to please change his body.  He asked God to make his body like everyone else's.
And I lost it.

I sobbed the entire way home.
Like the ugly cry - mascara was streaked down my face.

Normally, I try to hide my tears from Will as I don't want him to misinterpret them.  This time, I couldn't so when he asked, I told him Mommy was mad at herself for forgetting his zanco liner.  (Partially true.)
And I had to have a discussion with a FOUR year old about God and His timing and His miracles and how He cares more about our hearts than he does our physical bodies and that while He could change Will's body, I don't think that is His plan and He has big plans for Will - just as he is.
Really?  He's FOUR.  How the heck am I supposed to handle these questions?
It was just too much.

By the time I was home and had the zanco piece and was back in the car, I was nearly an hour late.
So we bagged it and headed to Barnes and Noble to read stories.

 Where I found out that it is National Bullying Prevention Month, apparently.

 (sidenote - it is odd to me that Cartoon Network is a sponsor... I don't usually let Will watch CN as some of their cartoons I think border on disrespect between characters.  Anyway.)

I could probably count on one hand the number of times we have faced cruelty or anything resembling a bully.  For most of Will's life, I've had to deal with those instances and the pain they cause - but Will hasn't been too aware because of his age.
But now?
Now he gets it.  Now it hurts him.

Recently, we've had two instances of bullying.
The most painful one has occurred twice  - both random instances when we've run into this particular child around town.  His mother is always oblivious - too busy or distracted to be paying attention to her child.  (I have yet to meet her.)  The first time, I blogged about here.
Then we ran into the child again about 2 weeks ago.
And he mocked my child again.  And he drew a crowd and I'm pretty sure I didn't respond right.  I was intimidated since his mother was at least physically present... and he wasn't physically attacking my child - just with his words...and I think I froze in shock and heartbreak.
And I've tossed and turned now debating how I should have responded or what I could do.  I've begun to have conversations with Will about how he can respond but that is tough too.
I can't even describe the event right now without getting teary and nauseated and angry.
Because it was one thing when for the first 3ish years, Will didn't notice the cruelty.
But now he gets it.
(Sidenote - I totally get that kids are curious and I love answering their respectful, natural curiosity questions about my kids.  That doesn't bother me a bit.  It's cruelty that gets me.)

And a few days later he says things about being fearful of kids seeing his body and laughing at him.
And that breaks my heart.
It leaves me reeling and gasping for air.
This isn't covered in any parenting books.
I'm at a loss as to how to address it.
He's four.

And too soon, I'll be dealing with it with this precious one too.

While at B & N, we read several books about bullying.  Honestly, some were not so good. 
>But this one was great.  So I bought it.
And it came with music.

(to listen, go to the bottom of the blog & hit pause on the music playlist.)

Later, we listened to the song while I made dinner.  And I noticed that Will personalized the words... he says the kid's name as he sings - telling him to not laugh at him.

And then we came home and danced in the rain.
Because what else was I supposed to do?

Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is an idiot.
Because words do hurt.  Being laughed at hurts.  Being called names hurts.
And watching this happen to your little boy?  It just about kills me.
Dave Barnes has a great song - "Sticks & Stones" -
love his words - 
 You would have kept those words on your tongue,
If you had known the hurt they had done.
While your fists stay by, right by your side,
Your words they bruise me deep inside.

I'd rather have sticks and stones and broken bones
than the words you say to me,
Cause i know bruises heal and cuts will seal
but your words beat the life from me.

Sometimes your words are thick as lead,
You swing them strong upside my head.
But what hasn't killed has made me strong,
So i'll take my scars and move along.

I'd rather have sticks and stones and broken bones
than the words you say to me,
Cause i know bruises heal and cuts will seal
but your words beat the life from me.

Goodbye is the best way that I know,
To forgive and still be letting go.

I'd rather have sticks and stones and broken bones
than the words you say to me,
Cause i know bruises heal and cuts will seal
but your words beat the life from me. 

I refuse to let the life be beat out of him.  I refuse.
No one can take his tender heart or happy nature away from him.  
How desperately I want him to have confidence - to know he is created by a God who adores him more than I do.  I want him to love his body - to see all that he is able to accomplish, to take pride in his differences.
I struggle to know how to best teach him.  And I struggle as I realize I am fighting against children who want to rip that away from him.

How thankful I am for this smile after a difficult day.

5 thoughts:

Leslie said...

Sweet Katie, I am crying with you right now. I am so sorry about your morning last week at BSF, and the hard questions you are having to answer. I can tell you that the handicapped parking is in the back, RIGHT BY the children's program area door. If you come in the parking lot from Broadway, drive straight back. You will go past the playground, and keep going, and follow it around to the right. Then you will see more parking and handicap parking is right there, first row closest to the building. The children's program door is the one on the left(the covered drive through). Please let me know if you have ANY questions or need any other info to make your morning transition smoother. I will pray for you this evening and in the morning. My cell number is 903-590-0066. Please do not hesitate to call!!

Danielle said...

I'm so sorry! Kids are so mean and it is usually a learned response. SAD! I have been reading your blog for awhile and you are an inspiration to me. You are a great mom and are raising your kids to glorify Jesus. Our kiddos are about the same ages. I have a just turned 4 year old (boy), an almost 1 year old (girl) and one on the way. (Ahhhh!) My son and Will sound so much alike. They would play so good together. Oh the things they would come up with! :)

The Reeves bunch said...

Man, I am not ready for that at all. You have been an inspiration to be able to hear how you handle everything. I am sure that there will be many tearful nights/days for me as well. God made us extra strong to be able to deal with those bullies that will make fun our perfect children. Thank you for being so transparent to allow others to see what it is really like to have a child with differences. Will and Ellie are so lucky to have you as their Mommy! I will be praying for you as you deal with those bullies in Will's life. Kids are cruel and what makes it worse is sometimes their parents don't even notice.

Dee Dee said...

I am so sorry. Just from reading your blog I know you are a wonderfully strong mom who is raising an amazing strong son (and daughter).
I am totally crying at work right now. The music totally got to me. I have a nine-year old with VERY high anxiety which prevents him from preforming well in school. He looks normal on the outside, but none of the many professionals we have seen has ever seen a case of anxiety this high in a child. To compund his anxiety - he also has dsylexia and dsygraphia. We are getting him help but you never feel like it is enough.
Dee Dee in Plano

kelly said...

dear katie,
you are a seriously kick ass mom.

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