Friday, December 14, 2001

Snippy sister

Someone's being mean to my son these days. Calling him weird, rolling eyes when he speaks, and frequently saying, with maximum contempt, "I'm SO glad I'm not like YOU."

If some kid on the school playground was doing this, and I got wind of it, I'd go ballistic. I'd demand apologies, ask for the kid to be disciplined, order the teacher to talk to the parents. Well, maybe I wouldn't really do all that, but I'd talk about doing it, and I'd come on here and rant and rave about what kind of lousy parents let their kids talk to special-needs children like that.

Unfortunately, in this case, I know the parents. I am the parents. The person being so mean to my son is my daughter. And since she's classified as a special-needs child too, it's additionally distressing. She allows as how she wouldn't feel very good if somebody said that to her; I pray that nobody ever will. But she says it to her brother without hesitation.

And yeah, some of it is ordinary sibling rivalry, and if they were ordinary siblings, I'd think nothing of it. They probably think nothing of it. Their respective statuses as children that other children might not want to be like probably provides more subtext for me than it does for them. My daughter has, at other times, wished she was like her brother because he has less homework, and doesn't need to work so hard. She recognizes that he struggles less with schoolwork, and wishes she was like that. She recognizes that he struggles with acceptable behavior, and she's so glad she doesn't. Can't really argue with that. I'm glad she doesn't, too.

But hearing "I'm SO glad I'm not like YOU" spat at my boy still scrunches my heart. I suppose I might as well get used to it, because the world is going to be less and less kind to him as he grows up. He might as well get used to it, too, and what better place than the otherwise loving confines of home. He's probably better able to disregard it coming from his sis than from a playground bully.

Maybe more than my son needs to be protected, though, my daughter needs to learn that some things are just mean to say, and it's never okay to be mean. It's not okay for people to be mean to you, and it's not okay for you to be mean to other people, even if it's just your weird little brother. For my Little Miss Literal, who says exactly what she thinks and doesn't think much more about it, that may be a hard lesson to learn. But like it or not, she doesn't have the kind of parents who will let their kids talk like that. To anyone.

No comments: