I know I keep letting the news dictate my world view these days, but it’s been hitting home a bit more than usual. Sure, there are protesters in the streets, shutting down roads during rush hour. The local news and social media are heavily peppered with brutality. My own personal Facebook page even became a platform for debate last week until, at the request of my husband, I pulled the posts and debates in question for the sake of smoother family relations later on. Sadly, though, none of that compares to the cracks in my heart after some very real words came flowing out of my baby’s mouth.
The first was in the car on the way to Thanksgiving Dinner when he was telling a story neither his father or I could quite understand. Until, that is we heard the word “Kill”.
“What did you say, buddy?” we asked.
“Bad guys kill the good guys.”
Kevin and I just looked at each other with wide eyes.
“Sam,” I said. “I know good guys and bad guys fight alot, but it is NEVER ok to kill anyone,” I explained.
I think I might have managed some other age appropriate comments to deter such a cavalier attitude towards such an adult concept. I know he doesn’t ultimately know what it means and I don’t want to squash additional conversation with him when he becomes intentionally curious about it. Ugh, it sure hurt to hear though.
The second offense was on Saturday morning, as he was sweetly pretending with some blocks. The blocks were having lots of conversations, etc., but it wasn’t until the blue circle block called the star block “retard” that my ears pricked.
“Excuse me,” I said firmly. “What did you just say?”
His face showed embarrassment, but it was clear he wasn’t sure why he should feel that way (other than my tone).
“But, but, but I didn’t say anything!” he said.
“Sam, that word is NOT a nice word AT ALL. You could really hurt someone’s feelings if you called them that name, or they heard you using that word. If you hear someone using that word again, I want you to say ‘My Mommy said that is not a nice word’. Do you understand?”
“Yeah…” he said. He didn’t seem terribly sorry, so I’m not sure he understood the gravity of it all.
“So what will you say if you hear someone saying that word?” I asked, trying to see if it sunk in at all.
“My Mommy said that’s not a nice word.”
Again, heart break. I’m not at all sure where he got that word from. I alerted one of his teachers at school so she could try to listen more intently to conversations between classmates to make sure that behavior could be shut down appropriately.
I know I can’t control everything he sees and hears (hence his excitement about Ninja Turtles, which is NOT a thing in our house and won’t be for a very long time), but I never expected such serious and strong words to come flowing. It got me thinking about what an uphill battle I’ll be fighting for the rest of his young life. He’ll be exposed to all kinds of situations, scenarios, and conversations. This pains me in ways I imagine only other parents can really understand. I wish he could grow up in a world that is different from the one he was born into.
I know if I do my job halfway right, he has a fighting chance of making a difference.
At least, I hope so.