Her Bad Mother

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sticks and Stones

There are about six thousand things that I'm sitting on posting about.

Okay, maybe just ten:

1) The fate of Kermit, and why the It's Not Easy Being Green Dancers will never end up on America's Got Talent.
2) What America's Got Talent, and the presence of David Hasselhoff thereon, reveals about America's Capacity for Irony. And the decline of Western Civilization.
3) My further thoughts (which, I know, you all BURN to hear) on Caitlin Flanagan, provoked by this.
4) My confusion around when the right time might be to beg the storks to bring a little sister or brother for WonderBaby to tyrannize, thereby redirecting her tyrannical energies away from me. (For the record, I'm pretty much feeling exactly what Amy is.)
5) My confusion around whether or not to begin weaning WonderBaby.
6) Why I have to break up with my playgroup/mom's group.
7) The painful and confusing experience this week of being broken up with by a old friend for not rising above the pressures of new motherhood to be more social when I am clearly capable of being social because I BLOG. (Which would be the most hurtful and confusing thing in my week so far, were it not for a) the head-piercing ear-ache that I am currently suffering, b) terrible family crap, and c) what I've written about below.)
8) Relatedly, why it is really, really hard, as a new mother, to not only 'be social' beyond the playground, but to be ANYTHING BUT A MOTHER, and why that can really interfere with what other people consider to be normal everyday life as an adult with adult relationships.
9) More details on the effort that I am making to be social with real-life moms - because contact with other moms is vital to survival - who also happen to be bloggers (TO Mama-Bloggers-Get-Together Inaugural Event!) and a notice that there is a Dad - yes, a DAD - in the Basement, venting.
10) My second run-in with Zanta.

I have spewed out this list of posts because they are pounding on my brain and hurting my head. They'll all get posted. But not today. Today, I am sick. And overwhelmed by some family issues. And run to the ground by WonderBaby-Gone-Turbo. So I was not going to post. I've been resisting posting since yesterday.

But something is really, really bothering me.

The other night, I received an e-mail from my sister. Among other things, she said this:

"I have to plan for the talk I am giving Tanner's class about Muscular Dystrophy. It came out last week that some kids are telling Tanner he is going to die soon..."

Children in my nephew's kindergarten class are telling him that he is going to die. Which is especially disturbing - for those of you who do not know the full story about my nephew - because it is true. He has Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. His muscles are wasting away. When the muscles that are his heart and lungs give out - most likely while he is still very young - he will die.

Which is something that, as you can imagine, is handled with the utmost delicacy by his family. Tanner knows that there is a problem with his muscles. He knows that he has to see doctors all the time. He knows that he has to use leg braces, and that there is a wheelchair waiting for him. He knows that he has a very special wish because of these things. But he has not fully understood that this all means that he is going to die, and what it means that he is going to die.

Death is pretty abstract for young children. But even in kindergarten, they know that it has something to do with going away forever. They know - they worry - that it might hurt. Tanner worries. He knows that death has something to do with him. He just can't yet understand what or why that is.

Which is why it is that these children taunting him about death is so hurtful. His proximity to death isolates him. It's what makes him different. But unlike having red hair or an accent, it's not something that he can embrace. The fact of death being in his future in a way that it is not for other children is a painful thing. And so, by calling him out for it, these children are hurting him. Badly.

I'm not angry at the children. They're confused by death, and by Tanner. But they're confused because they don't understand, and they have not been encouraged to understand. Tanner has been excluded from the social world of children since he was diagnosed with DMD. He has never been invited to a playgroup, or to a birthday party (and in the latter case, he is always the only child in the class that is excluded.) When his mother approaches other mothers about playdates, excuses are made. The other children do not play with him. He is isolated among them because they have been taught, however unintentionally, that it is okay to isolate him.

And it's this, I think, that has created the conditions wherein these children think that's okay to tease him about dying. And I'm angry about that.

Maybe I'm not being fair. Kids are kids, right? But Kristen's post today reminded me that WE shape our children. We are responsible for whether or not they are considerate and kind. For whether they pinch or punch or pull or tease. For whether they hurt other children. For whether they understand that ignoring or isolating others can be as hurtful - can be more hurtful - than any pinch.

Please, fellow parents, take the time to find out whether there is a child in your childrens' class or group who is seen as different. Ask your child why. Ask your child whether that child is teased or bullied or just ignored. And then encourage your child to not participate.

And ask yourselves whether you do anything - however unintentionally - that teaches your child that it's okay or acceptable to shun those who are different. Have you ever turned away from, or refused to make eye contact with, someone in a wheelchair? Someone who looks funny, or walks funny? I realize that this is a tough one: we don't want to teach our children to embrace absolutely everybody (this is not safe), especially people that make them uncomfortable. But we should be able to teach them how to discriminate considerately. They don't have to be friends with everybody. They can and should ignore other children who are mean to them. But shouldn't we teach them that it is never okay to single out one child for exclusion? That difference in and of itself shouldn't be a basis for discrimination? That being hurtful is never okay?

Maybe I'm wrong. (Am I wrong? Am I being too judgmental here?) But if I could say one thing to the parents of the children in Tanner's class (who, I think, need the talk that my sister is going to give more than the children do) it would be this: ask yourselves what you would want and expect from other children and parents if your child were in Tanner's shoes. And then conduct yourselves accordingly.

Golden Rule, Categorical Imperative, whatever. Do unto others. Play nice, be nice.

And teach your children to do the same.

59 Comments:

Blogger Henry said...

right on sister sista
well said

parents are the role models and we MUST demand of ourselves: kindness, integrity and patience (among other things) if this is what we wish our kids to learn.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Bahar said...

Oh my god! What a cruel world we live in.

How do the kids know about his disease? or the fact that he might die? Where is the compassion? Love? Friendship?

I am so sorry to hear that. I am also so sad that your sister and your whole family of course, are going through such hardship.

Is there any chance that may not die? A miracle or something? He sounds like an angel from what you have always written about him.

That's a reason for you to hold wonderbaby a little tighter every night. I am hoping that one day, I will get the chance to actually meet you and Wonderbaby in person.

(formerly Sky)

3:17 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

I am so sorry about Tanner's condition and ultimate prognosis. That is heartbreaking.

You have inadvertently given me an opportunity to sing the praises of my daughter without hurting a friend of mine. Tacy goes to school with her son. He was sick for more than a year, and his physical and social development was delayed as a result. Only recently has he begun to play with other children at school (he will be six this fall). Our families have gotten together regularly since we moved here, and he and Tacy play together happily.

About a year ago, just after we'd moved here, I picked up Tacy at school and she pointed to a classmate and told me, "SHE said I shouldn't play with (his name)."

I asked, "Really? And what did you say?"

She replied, "I told her that HE was my FRIEND, and I would play with him."

I can hardly express how proud I was (and still am) of my little Goosie.

I hope that Tanner will find a friend whose parents can see beyond his condition. He sounds like an amazing little guy who would be a wonderful friend to have.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

Oh, man, man, man. To drag out the old cliche, kids can be so damn cruel.
(((Tanner)))
(((HBM)))
And damn, that's quite the list youre sitting on.
I can't address your nephew's situation right now; am at work and have already stifled sobs from clicking on his wish link.
But know I'm thinking of him, and of his momma, and of you, and your whole family, with nothing but good vibes and hope for a looooooong future for Tanner.

4:04 PM  
Blogger lynsalyns said...

First off, I can't tell you how sorry I am for you and your family and your brave nephew.

Second - my father was visibly ill and I myself lost all my hair to alopecia areata three years ago. I was 99 percent bald for two years. I got many different kind of looks from others - as well as the pitying, glad-it-isnt-me looks.

I always look people in the eye and try to see them. Really see them.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

You're so right, HBM. It does all come from the parents. Or the teachers. Left alone, kids fear that which they cannot understand. I remember, not too long ago, my wife and I were watching a news story about a kindergartener who was diagnosed with leukemia and had to undergo chemotherapy. To show their love for the young boy, his classmates all shaved their heads in solidarity so he wouldn't feel different. The story brought tears to my eyes and demonstrated the natural human proclivity for kindness.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous chelle said...

I cannot even imagine excluding anyone because they are different. I want my daughter to embrace differences, learn from them and be kind to everyone, not just people that are "like" her. I am so sorry your nephew is surrounded by ignorant people!! He would be welcome to a playdate at my house any day!

4:36 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Oh, oh. Rocking back and forth here, crying for Tanner.

That is such a wonderful list of future posts. I especially vote for #4 and #6!

Re: #7: I find that my ability to socialize has seriously deteriorated since I started blogging. I spend most of my time in a daze, absentmindedly attending to daily tasks while composing posts, and my attempts at conversation are riddled with, "I was just reading about this in a blog..."

Re: #8: It's hard, HARD to talk about non-child-related things. One of my friends at girls' night is dealing with infertility, so we try to avoid the kid-talk, and it's such a challenge.

Sorry for the hijack - that was a thought-provoking post.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

This is just terrible . . . I know the kids are too young to understand, and are reacting out of fear, but for heaven's sake-- the parents could invite him to a birthday party. It's not that hard.

She should be giving the talk to the parents, I think, not the class . . .

I want to invite your nephew over to my house to play right now. Except, of course, I live really far away, and my son is two and would therefore probably bore the heck out of Tanner . . .

4:42 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Sheesh I'm so not looking forward to having to deal with these situations as a parent, though. Is that horrible to say? Do you all hate me now? I'd like to think that leading by example will be good enough. I'm not like that, so my child wont be, right? But I'm sure it's not that easy. It's going to take a talk with them, and examples and reasons, and *sigh* It's the right thing but it's not easy is it? I bet most parents just don't say anything because they don't know how to go about it.

I'm new at this parenting stuff....my daughter's only 8 months. Hopefully because I'm not that kind of person it will just come to me how to deal with it. I would hate for my child to be like those children. *keeps fingers crossed*

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

That is a reminder why I am enjoying my non-school age child. Because kids (speaking from my own experiences) can be amazingly cruel.

I cannot even express how much the thought of your nephew being exposed to that ignorance pains me. I hope she talks to the parents to. WTF?

And wow. I can't wait to hear about all the other posts - particularly the real life friend thing. I'm still trying to get over the fact my daughter's 2nd b-day party will include ME, THe HUZ and her because I have no friends. And sadly, either does she. I'll be posting on this as well my friend.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I can only echo what has already been said and add my own "I'm so sorry". And thank you for once again bringing something so critical to the forefront (you and Kristen!). My son may not be old enough yet to understand empathy, but he is old enough to watch me and my actions/reactions as I interact with others. And although his words are many months (please, God!) away, he is watching and listening and filing what he sees and hears away for future reference. What a responsibility we have as parents!

5:35 PM  
Blogger Jozet said...

Wonderful post.

And many hugs to you, Auntie. Many, many hugs.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Rock the Cradle said...

What a hellish experience. I'm so sorry.

It's tragic that all this fear is creating such a toxic environment. The school should take the initiative and educate both the kids and the parents. At least give the parents a kick in the ass and give them a badly needed clue. What the hell are they waiting for?

6:33 PM  
Blogger Rock the Cradle said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:34 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

Not sure if you know about the organization I work for. It's called Starlight Starbright and is for children with serious and fatal illness. I host a chatroom 6 days a week where I talk and play games with the kids and the kids talk and play games with one another. Starbright world was started for children who either live in the hospital or have lost all their friends due to illness. Having a terminal disease is lonely and it's difficult to maintain freindships due to fear and confusion.

Children are scared of what they do not know and therefore speak candidly and often hurtfully of death. Many of my kids have lost every friend they have ever had because they were diagnosed with Luekemia and started chemo treatments or had to spend a year in bed or were given several months to live.

I think you're right and that parents should educate their children about respect and kindess when it comes to terminal and serious illness. I also know that it's easy for parents to say so when they are so close to dying children. Most parents do not want to think about it and therefor do not discuss with their children. Most parents cannot fathom what to even say.

Please tell your nephew about starbright world. We have quite a few kids with MD and every one of them is amazing. These kids have changed my life and I am in awe of them daily. I am sorry that you and your family must endure Tanner's slow demise but I am also hopeful you will be inspired by his amazing strength and love and the life he lives whole-heartedly while he is here.

SBW was founded for the reason you have blogged about. Please look into it because we would be happy to hang with Tanner anytime.

www.starlight.org

Love to your family as always.

7:00 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

bad mama, that is a terrible tale. How sad for Tanner that his numbered days should not be filled with the joy of playing with others, and how sad for th others that they are missing out on knowing him. I would hazard a guess that even adults who know better treeat him diferently out of a pity, a wanting to make up for things, that sort of thing. Good-hearted impulses, but another thing that would set him apart in the eyes of the other kids, who are quick to see such things. I can fully understand why you must be both angry and sad about this. Your sister must be downright miserable. Give her a hu for me, will you?

7:37 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

a hug, I mean. A hu too, I guess, if you figure out what that is and it's appropriate...

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a 14 year old girl from our small small town (pop. 2000) hung herself in her closet last week because some kids in her class were calling her fat. the girl was no. where. near. fat. a beautiful beautiful girl with ridiculously smart smart head on her shoulders. she had a loving loving huge family. a huge lovable community full of good families with great children and thoughtful loving caring teachers. and yet this still happened. it's awful, just awful. thank you for posting this. it needs to be said but moreover it needs to be HEARD. by all parents of kids of all ages. and these discussions with your kids need to occur not just once, but regularly. across time. across schoolyears. across all families. across people within the family. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for bringing this to the front of all the blogging topics. thank you.

7:57 PM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

Okay. I want to say a million things to respond to each and every point you made. I am sorry that you are having such a colossally shitty time right now. Sincerely. My head is pounding for you. Sending a virtual hug and shot of vodka your way. Will give both in person next week :)

But about Tanner ... I don't have the words. I do have a big lump in my throat just thinking about it. We must teach our children kindness. And not just with one discussion but every day. Every. single. day. For children like Tanner and all of us.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Mother Bumper said...

I cried when I read this post. And you aren't being too judgemental in my eyes.

I used to work in a physical rehab centre. One of the most important things I learned in my years there was very simple: treat people like people. I took that lesson with me and I hope I live up to it.

I couldn't agree more when you said in reference to the children's parents "...I think, (they) need the talk that my sister is going to give more than the children do". We are a primary influence in how our children react and respond. I want to teach Bumper not to shun someone just because they are different.

I agree: Play nice and be nice. 'Nuff said. Thank you for sharing.

sorry for hijacking your comments

8:03 PM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

I just talked to my kids (5 & 7) yet again about the importance of kindness.

I'm sorry and deeply saddened by your family's reality. Much strength to you all.

8:12 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

I'm so sorry about Tanner. And so sorry he is being treated this way.

No, you are not in the least being too judgmental.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Jezer said...

Oh, sweet Tanner. I'm so sorry that he's going through this, on top of everything else.

Something I always think about though, is this: it is very, very possible that people with terminal illnesses, like my aunt Karen or your Tanner, might easily outlive any one of us. Someone in perfect health today can easily step in front of a bus tomorrow. There are no guarantees.

And that's how I try to live, and how I hope I teach Al to live: we are never promised tomorrow, so we must make today the best it can be--not so much by doing for ourselves, but by doing for others.

Your post today reminded me that I need to make each day really count.

You sound like you're having a bit of a week. I hope things get better for you.

BTW...my maid of honor and I broke up after I had Al--I just wasn't into the "girls' night outs" so much and she (mom of two) thought I was being snotty and boring. It happens...

9:58 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

Julia and I just had a conversation tonight about mean words and good words, and why mean words make people feel bad and that's why we don't use them.

This is an excellent post, and you are absolutely right -- it's all learned behaviour. I'm so sorry about your nephew; you and your sister, and of course him, are in my thoughts.

10:27 PM  
Blogger kfk said...

You are definitely right about everything. Too judgemental? NO WAY. We parents are responsible for teaching our children empathy, sympathy, HUMANENESS. I hope, in the least, your sister is able to send a note home with all those kids so that the parents can read it and soak it in. Or better yet, print this post out and use it. It is sure to bring some realization and introspection into their hearts. It so easily could be their child in that isolated situation AND WHY CAN'T SOME SEE THAT???? OR RATHER, MOST?
I am so sorry your heart is being broken by this. How your sister manages to be strong in the face of it is amazing, though I'm sure she would say she is anything but strong. I wish only smiles and happiness for Tanner, may ALL his wishes come true.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

I don't know. My daughter too will die. I've been 'evolved' about this as well as all other PC issues and still..... it's not going as planned.
I've become a nonbelieve, as it were.
I love your blog, btw. Great writing and pictures. Thanks for letting me visit

1:32 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

I am so sorry to hear about Tanner. I had not read your previous posts about him. I can't imagine how difficult this must be for your family.

Also, thank you for this post. I will make sure to always be inclusive of the children in my son's classes so that they feel welcomed by us. No child should ever feel isolated like that. I hope that the mothers of the children in Tanner's class (as well as their teacher) can help facilitate better relationships among the children.

1:55 AM  
Blogger macboudica said...

In no way am I comparing my son to Tanner, he doesn't have a life threatening disease, but he does have ADHD and because of that has poor social awareness. So he is often excluded and teased. Unfortunately, the child who is the worst about this is his cousin who he adores and my SIL just doesn't get it. So I do have some idea of the pain exclusion causes for children.

I remember one time when my daughter was young there was a child who needed a walker or wheelchair or something. I can't remember if it was the parents or the school that wrote the letter, but a letter was sent home with the child's classmates encouraging the parents to speak with their children about kindness, not teasing, etc.

Anyway, I am sorry for the pain and the terrible week you are having.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

How sad that he has to deal with that from his classmates. I agree with you - kids need to be corrected when they say something hurtful like that to someone else. Is it possible some of their parents don't know about Tanner's condition, and so they haven't had the chance to talk to their kids yet? I also think it might be good to send a letter home to the parents telling them about Tanner and asking them to talk to their kids about it.

I'm sorry you've had such a bad week, and I hope things get better soon. I look forward to all of the topics you have in your head, especially breaking up with your old friend and considering having baby #2. We could be pregnant at the same time!

9:17 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I would point you at Jane Katch's books - The first is "Under Deadman's Skin" and the second is "They Don't Like me". They are quick reads and I think you - and your sister would REALLY like them.

She is a gifted teacher of Kindergarten children and has done some heavy thinking about children's needs around death, dying and bullying - and what we - as adults- can help them to discover in a humane, sensitive way. Her work is based on Vivian Paley and Bettelheims's work. Both of which I love, and will be heavily featured in the Dawn Thesis Summer 2008!

But yes. I think that one of the reasons children are never taught to handle these issues is simply because their parents never handle the issues. Maybe I am more sensitive to this as the Mom of a Non white kiddo in a very white place...but anytime a child can be identified as "different", they will be. It is the nature of the pack. But that doesn't make it OK.

Shit HBM. Now I have to go and write about this...

9:21 AM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I just read this and it made me so sad.
We've been having a debate in our home about the Pride Parade - why I insist on bringing my son (is it too mature, etc). My thought is we go because I think the point is inclusion. And, I hate a society that is exclusive.

It's not the same as your experience with Tanner, but it is in the sense that it is about acceptance.

I can't imagine how you feel. I love my nieces to death, and to see them hurting for a second breaks my heart. To be so young and dealing with this is awful

I wish I could give you a big hug or say something that would help. I really do. But, my heart breaks for you.

And, if nothing else, I'm going to make a bigger effort to make sure that in our world of play groups and birthday parties that the people who are often outsiders are brought in.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

Oh, yes, your sister needs to talk to those parents as much or more than the children. Differences, illnesses, disabilities....all are hard to understand, but I think the concept of death is incredibly taboo in many families. Most school-aged kids have learned to be nice to a classmate in a wheelchair (for example), but most are completely lacking the capacity to deal with death. Parents don't want to have to talk to kids about THAT. But they will have to sooner or later.

I'm so sorry about your nephew. I hope he and his family can get the support and kindness they deserve from his school, instead of the crap they are dealing with now.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Sharpie said...

So Sad - poor little thing. And your poor sister. I wanted to rip a kids eyes out for spitting on my son....can't imagine the heartache.

Sounding out vibes to help stay strong and love to all involved.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

Isn't that one of the whole points of bringing another being into this world - to break cycles of our own parents and of society past and to teach acceptance of people who are different than we are? Your post made me so sad and yet inspired me to put that thought in the top of my brain and hold it there for when my child is confronted with a similar situation. I'm so sorry for Tanner. I can't believe the cruelty (intentional or not) of some children. And I do believe it stems from the parents.

I also can't wait to read the first batch of things you need to get off of your chest!

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Binkytown said...

I'ts taken me a long time to comment because each time I try the words don't quite do justice to Tanner or your sister and what they are dealing with. They are lucky to have you, and in turn, I'm sure you feel lucky to have them, even with the challenges that brings.

I hadn't read about Tanner in your archives and I had no idea you really knew what I was talking about. I was only imagining a less than perfect scenario and you've experienced this in your own family. My heart goes out to you all. Wishing your family continued strength and peace of mind.

12:13 PM  
Blogger L. said...

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE who think it`s okay not to invite him to birthday parties, and are teachng their kids that it`s okay?

Please let me know, so I can bitch-slap them!

Kids don`t yet fully comprehend their inherent abilities to wound, but jesus effing christ, there`s just no excuse for the parents` cruelty.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

There's nothing I can add that wasn't already said by others. I can only say that I hope this talk your sister is planning to give will open a few eyes. I hope those children go home and talk to their parents about what they learned from the talk and that these parents who think it's okay to exclude a child because of their differences sit up and take notice that their behavior is abhorrent. Like a previous commenter said, the children are TAUGHT their exclusions are okay and they're learning this from parents, ADULTS who should know better.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Kids can be cruel but adults are far worse. I can't fathom inviting the entire class to my child's birthday party and leaving one child, one child who should be there over all others, out of the festivities. Who the hell are those people?!

4:35 PM  
Blogger Binky said...

I really, really hope Tanner's mom can help make it better by talking to the class. I have a lot of faith in kids; I think they will listen. I'll be thinking of her and hoping she finds the perfect words.

5:25 PM  
Blogger L. said...

After leaving my ranting comment above, I could not get the whole birthday party issue out of my head.

One thing did occur to me -- perhaps the parents` cruelty is a misguided effort to protect their own kids from the inevitable pain of losing a friend at a young age?

Two years ago, one of my older son`s friends died suddenly of encephalitis, at the age of 8 1/2. The funeral was horrible -- dozens of weeping children everywhere. My son is still in counseling, and still cries when he talks about his friend.

I can`t imagine excluding an ill boy from a birthday party -- but I guess I can imagine wanting to spare a child the pain my son went through, by not encouraging a friendship with a boy suffering from an ultimately fatal illness. This does not excuse the parents` behavior, but might help explain it.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Thanks so much to all for the warm wishes and support. I felt awkward about this post because I thought that I was perhaps being too harsh, as I said, or carried away by hurt and anger.

Some of you have asked how the kids know - because Tanner is obviously physically limited (his muscles are deteriorating rapidly and he has difficulty doing much more than walking - so, no monkey bars or tag or rambunctious play) his classmates and their pants were told at the beginning of his school year that he has DMD. (It's also a small neighborhood in a small-ish town, so word travels.) They weren't told, so far as I know, that he is dying (the school knows), but I guess that one or two parents looked into it and one or two kids were told or overhead and it spread to the playground and the rest, you know.

Kids will be kids, as I said, and kids can be cruel - even unintentionally - especially when it comes to things that they find confusing or frightening. It's up to us to do what we can to mitigate this - by talking to them about these things, and by modelling kindness and consideration. From the sounds of it, you're all doing exactly that. I wish that you were all Tanner's neighbours. I'm glad that you're mine.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

My heart aches reading this. There but the grace of God...

You are way more diplomatic and thoughtful than I'd be. I tend to get emotional when people I love are being hurt. I salute you.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Mom-101: I was beside myself emotional for two days. Had to calm myself down A LOT before posting this. But the calming-self-down and posting helped. A lot.

9:26 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

SO with you on this. the parents of Tanner's schoolmates need some schooling of their own.

shame on them.

your sister is a champ.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous wendy boucher said...

I love this post. It made me cry a little but your are so right on. You know, grown ups exclude other grown ups with disabilities or fatal illnesses. It is not surprising to learn that children act out that way too.

My Girlie has a few issues that leave her excluded (nothing at all on par with Tanner) but it has made me very sensitive to this issue. Thanks for the post.

11:37 PM  
Blogger J's Mommy said...

Thanks for bringing tears to my eyes. I feel so bad for Tanner. I want to give him a huge hug. I hate to hear about children suffering. I agree with your post 100 percent and bravo to you for putting it out there.

7:37 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

So much to think about here... taken me a couple days. Like Hasselhoff, Hasselhoff!!!

No really. I send you all my ador/mir-ation for posting on this. Not too long from now you will be places with your little girl and be dealing with the faux-classless society she will grow up in. What you have said should help a lot of us.

I found it quite scary to think about the commitment I have made to leading my child to/thro' realationships and communities by having her. I hope the 'standard' you aspire to here can be taken up by your bleaders. The real trick is that it isn't the kids -- its us.

10:05 AM  
Blogger something blue said...

My heart aches for Tanner. I think that I would overcompensate because he deserves so much that I would want the world to offer up everything good.

It's possible that parents are afraid of letting their child get close in fear of experiencing the pain of losing a friend. However it is more likely that their ignorance is more the fear of the unknown. I hope your sisters words open up a few hearts.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

Perhaps this isn't helpful to the discussion, but I FEEL SO ANGRY ABOUT THESE PARENTS! Tanner has never been invited to a playgroup or party? This really convinces me that humanity really isn't any more evolved than a nest of scorpions or a hive of bees. Or a school of pirhanas.
Is it as simple as a fear of the pain of loss? What is it? What aspect of our animal selves does this stem from?
Well not 'our' animal selves, because I swear to Christ (Oh yea, I forgot, I don't believe in Christ or god), I would NEVER BEHAVE LIKE THAT! I never have. I was always the one kid, the ONE KID that would talk to and play with 'different' kids (DD kids, kids with difficult illnesses, anything...kids who looked odd, were poor or cared for impropperly). There have even been times when I've intervened on a kids behalf when a teacher wouldn't. Am I so unique? I don't see how it's possible, but life experience tells me otherwise.
I've also had the honor of working with DD people, both children and adult, and people always say, "Oh, that's so great. I could never do that."
WHY? FUCKING WHY?

10:01 PM  
Blogger wolfbaby said...

how very sad,,, i am sorry for your nephew and your family, I couldn't begin to imagine how horrible that must be for all of you.. I will keep all of you in my prayers. Take care

2:27 PM  
Blogger hautemama said...

Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. WTF is wrong with us humans?

Sending healing vibes you way

ox

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

I am so sorry that Tanner is going through the pain of being taunted by the kids in his class, on top of the other pain that he's undoubtedly going through with his illness. I do imagine the other parents are acting out of fear -- the "There but for the grace of God, go I" kind of fear that scares the dickens out of us parents. But it's unfortunate that they have such an opportunity to teach kindness and unconditional love and they're missing the boat.

Kudos to your sister for being so willing to go and address this with the children. Kudos to you for being able to write about it and educate so many of us (and hopefully help to get it off your chest.)

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

I'm so sorry, HBM. That is a terrible situation for you and your family. You all have my deepest sympathies.

I'm not sure if you've been reading Beanie Baby long enough to know, but Frances is a dwarf. I'm always nervous using that word because it conjures up such a specific mental image and it doesn't fit Frances in the slightest because she has none of the 250 known varieties of dwarfism. She is dwarf-sized but has no other symptoms except for a slightly large head, hands and feet, low-set ears and a fontanelle that won't close. Still, you know, I know this is coming, and I dread it. So thank you for doing your part to remind people that tolerance and respect have to be taught. I can't tell you how much it drives me nuts to get those pitying looks from people. She is the best thing that ever happened to me and the happiest person I know, but they feel sorry for me because she is small.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

I am so, so sorry about what Tanner and your family is facing. And I am so upset at the thought that on top of everything, he has to deal with heartache, too. :(
I wish parents would realize that parenting is about so much more than buying your kids the best toys, or clothes, or if they play soccer or not... We are raising emotional and spiritual beings, who will matter to the world around them. I wish parents would make creating good human beings, REALLY GOOD human beings, the first priority! What problems that alone would solve. I am sure I fuck up a lot of things with my kids-- I am too pms-y too often, I cuss too much, I could be more patient... But I know that I have taught my son to be a kind person. And every time I see it in him, I am thankfull and proud of his loving heart. I wish he went to school with little Tanner, because he would play with him! He would.

Sending good thoughts your way.

:)

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

I saw the muscular dystrophy links in your sidebar so I did a search for it on your blog and it led me to this post. I am a bit familiar with the muscular dystrophy foundation because I have a neurological disorder CMT.

Your nephew is the same age as my son. That must be really tough on him and your family.

It is hard to say how much kids know about death and dying. My kidneys failed last September and I almost died. I think a family member said something to my son about it although I have no way of knowing for sure. But for months after I got out he was worried about me dying. I think he was traumatized some because it happened so unexpectedly.

I also wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. I have been reading your basement for awhile now and I sometimes read your blog here. I have been a lurker though lol. Guess not anymore!

12:00 AM  
Blogger urban-urchin said...

Delurking to say I'm so sorry, my heart is aching for you all. Tanner is a beautiful boy with an amazing heart, and these kids are missing out on the honor of having a friend like Tanner.

I truly hope that these parents can see and use the opportunity to teach their children that "it is truly better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all." for lack of a better way to put it.

2:47 AM  
Blogger apostrophe s said...

My son is three and has Down syndrome. My biggest fear when he was born was that he would have no friends.

I know he's young, but he's yet to be included in a birthday party or playdate of a 'typical' kid who doesn't have Down syndrome. He goes to a regular preschool and we have had no luck yet.

I'll be honest and say that for every six playdates you invite over for a child who is 'different' - one might be reciprocated.

It is a sad but true fact about the world today. People are terrified of anything that is different. And that sadly includes little children. ((hugs))to you and your sister. I totally understand this heartbreak.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Iheartfashion said...

This is just heartbreakingly sad. And no, I don't think you're being judgmental enough. I would want to pound those little brats for ignoring my nephew. I can't believe that he doesn't get invited to birthday parties! What can the parents be thinking? Your message of inclusion, despite physical differences, is so important. My best best wishes and prayers go out to Tanner and his parents.

9:15 AM  

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