Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brewing, Stewing... (update added)

I have about 10 posts I've written here tied up in 'bloggerland' that are recounts of emotional days or trying to make sense of how I've become such a "i have no idea what I'm doing' sort of parent. (I guess- since this is my first go at parenting- that status is likely to remain consistent.)  But tonight- I have to write this out and put it out for you all. You see- I don't know what I'm doing- nor do I know what our next step will be. I'm not even sure, that how I 'feel' about what is going on is "ok" or how to handle it the best way for my son. It bothers me- in so many different ways- even that "IT BOTHERS ME", bothers me.

You see- I'm tired. I'm tired of kids looking at my son from the next table with the mouth agape so long- drool drips to the floor seemingly unnoticed. I'm tired of sitting in the bleachers with him, with the 7yo kid in front of us turns and gets closer to his dad and holds tighter to his snack crackers. (as if we are suddenly going to snatch them at any moment.) I'm tired of that same kid turning back every 5-10 seconds of an entire baseball game. I'm tired of his own teammates (ages 4-6). I'm tired that even after a month & a half of 2 nights a week that kids shun him and refuse to 'share' with him.  I'm tired of a gymnastics classmate screaming in his face and ducking behind a parents leg, e.v.e.r.y.t.i.m.e. she see's him. I'm tired of the parents, of the 3 & 4 year old young ladies, who dress their daughters in a leotard that has shiny sequins and bedazzer eyecatchers across the body of the too small & age inappropriate outfit giving her wedgie so bad the entire audience can see your daughter business-  but you scowl at me and my son cause he compliments your daughters sparkles and touches a plastic sequin. Ya you. I'm tired of that.

I mean. Yes. I 'get it'.  I get that I brought him here. I get that he is only 4 and socially a bit young. I get that he is still developing some social skills (but he is also advanced in many areas as well).  I get that I'm hypersensitive to being a single momma raising a young man. I get that we live in a lily white area. I get that these drooling, unkind, selfish kids are supposedly just acting their age. I get that, maybe they 'just don't know him'. But you know what--- I'm tired of it all.

This summer I've intentionally geared toward social activities and opportunities for him. After spending the winter working very hard physically, and spending school time with kids 1-2 years younger than him, I know that giving him some social opportunities with those his age and older is important. He needs to learn, I need to give him space to do so, and yet, ... and yet... I saw tonight... HE is tired of it all.

He doesn't like going to baseball. He loved it at first, but- tonight I saw what I could no longer look past- he doesn't feel welcomed and loved there. Why would he? He finds a pack of gum, returns it to the owner, asks if he could please have a piece? replied by a sideways scowl and walked away to share with each of the other kids as they enter the dug out. "It is his choice, son. We have to respect the answer."

I'm tired of having to teach & enforce respect of others, when he is continually disrespected by his peers.

"Mommy I don't want to be here."
I know, my son.
"I want to go ride bikes. "
Yes, we will. After your game. I love you.

I think he misses school. School where he has consistency with adults and children. School where he isn't the only child with a rich colorful face. School where kids and teachers are happy to see him and he is a valued member of the class.

It's an odd feeling (and a special treat round here)- going to the play ground and being so relieved to see darker skin tones smiling and laughing among the kids. Relieved. Odd huh. But- it means my kid will have someone to play with. Less chance they will all run away from him or pretend he's not there. When there are other ethnicities in the crowd, all the kids are more likely to be open to playing with all the kids. 

What this means is- we end up with a small set of available children that will even attempt to be friends with him... because lets face it- regardless of ethnicity, race or social status- there are some kids you just DO NOT want your highly influenced kid to be subjected.

I do not know what this means for us in the next few years. He isn't even school age yet. Preschool starts up again in the fall. What will happen as next school year winds down? What will be best for him? Our home, as he's known it, is here. But it's becoming clearer and clearer to me, that this cannot continue for much longer. Something has to change. And this place--- this place--- does. not. change.

I read this article today (before baseball) and practically started crying. Clearly these issues have been circling the heart for a while now. We are taking it day by day. Praying for clarity in what needs to come next.

This may be the hardest thing to come- or- it may be the easiest.

ETA: It crushed me to watch it happen again today. We arrived at the bounce zone place a bit early. Had a good hour of fun, together, before lots of other kids his age and older started arriving.  He was sweating working hard and ecstatic and loving. As other kids joined in the fun- he went up to one boy after another asked "Do you want to play with me?" "Can I play with you?"  Each one- scowled. grimaced. squirmed. Or ran shrieking. Now, never once did he ask timidly or awkwardly. He was guinely and openly saying- "Let's run and play together." Every. Single. One.   Not one other kid in the place had a hint of an ethinic identity other than 'caucasian'- and not one other kid in the place had any intention of playing with or around my son. I have to wonder- why, as parents, when kids come face to face with someone in a wheelchair, or a little person, we are so quick to get down on their level and explain things in an age appropriate manner to them about compassion, kindness, equality etc... and yet- when face to face with a child of another race or ethnicity- no one knows what to say. Or are they afraid to try?... I'm hurting for my son tonight. As loving and open as he has been to me today, I know he's hurting. Again. 


Barbaloot said...

Um hmmm, yep! I hear you. Yeah, there is age appropriate behavior, but there should also be parents to guide children along. You don't just shrug and ignore your child being rude because they are young; you step up and teach them better. (Unless of course, the parent is just as rude as the preschooler.)

For different reasons, I am really reconsidering activities. My son (2.5 y/o) is really social, so I've worried about getting him enough social time with enough other kids. And I'm starting to feel it's more about quality than quantity, and so true, there are kids out there (erm, a few doors down in our case) that I don't really want him mixing with because they are rude obnoxious brats. So we're scaling back. We're not playing in front of the house. We're doing play dates with carefully selected friends. We're doing different mommy-son things without other little ones. Because I'm not going subject him to children other people have failed to teach any manners who stare, touch his hair and incessantly ask intrusive personal questions. I'm going to start telling other people's children they are being rude.

You go mama bear! You go with your mama bear gut and do what your son needs.

scooping it up said...

you have no idea how relevant this is to me today. NO IDEA. your last line speaks volumes.

places don't change. we too are in a place that isn't going to change. it's painful.

so sorry for the freaking clueless white people.

Liz said...

Oh, that all sounds so terrible, I am so sorry you've experienced it all! Good luck in making your decision, I know it's not an easy one but it really sounds to me like you know what you have to do...

Overthinking Mama said...

wow... my heart goes out to you...
i will say a prayer for you and your son..

if you ever need to talk.. you can email me : overthinkingmama @ Gmail. com :-)

Jennifer said...

This is heartbreaking for you and for Teg. It makes me angry that all the parents are not seeing this happening and doing something about it...all of them? ALL? I just can't believe that at least half of the parents are watching their children and seeing what is going on and teaching their children. It's making me more irate the more I think about it. I'd say, "Come out West". Too bad it's not that easy, is it? I know 2 girls who would love to play with your "Ethiopia boy", as Tigist said.

Leah said...

Get your boy out of need to be playing ball at 4 and if it is NOT positive there is really no need. Life should be full of joy and endless possibilities at 4! I'm so sorry for these experiences....

Corinne said...

Shannon, I agree with Leah to first stop going to that baseball. Those kids are horrible. Riding his bike will be a better use of time and a happy carefree experience for him, and you can walk along and think about things, while you're at it. What we are doing is so hard sometimes. You have a lot to consider but you'll get there.

Annie said...

Ugh. This makes me so sad. On so many levels. I am sorry you have to deal with this. And I am so sorry that T-man has to deal with it. I just don't get it. In the world we live in today. I guess I am ignorant. But why the hell can't everyone play togehter? No matter what their color is? I'm sorry you are hurting and I am sorry that he is hurting and that he is seeing this racism. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Not kidding.