Mama Lion – Hear Me Roar (and then possibly scratch someone’s eyes out)

Grade 2: A boy in my class told everyone my jacket was the colour of poop. He called me “Poo Coat” for the rest of the day. The other kids laughed hysterically. Naturally. I mean, they were six and anything poop related was hilarious. I was obviously traumatized as I still remember this clearly, decades later.

Grade 6: My three-some of best girlfriends become a lonely party of one when the other two ditched me. Bitches. Boy did that sting. I was devastated—stomach aches, didn’t want to go to school, cried my eyes out. Funny enough, one of those bitches and I patched things up the next school year and have been best friends ever since. I should really remind her of how lucky she is that I forgave her…

Kids can be mean. Fact. Even the kindhearted ones can get pulled into the teasing vortex. When I was teaching, I was shocked by how quickly things could go bad. Recess could quickly turn into The Lord of the Flies, with sticks and everything. Well. until I blew my whistle and confiscated the sticks. I’m not the first to point this out, but children are like a pack of wild animals – the predators sniff out and circle the weak, ready to attack.

When MY child is on the receiving end of this animal behaviour, I’m suddenly very in touch with my savage side. All parents go through it and if you haven’t yet, you will. “For example”, a kid rips a toy from your son’s hand and then pushes him to the floor at daycare (you see this through the window as you’re driving away to work). The teacher does nothing and your child starts to cry. This might push some new moms to the point where they call the daycare, roaring (though somewhat diminished by the sobbing) from their cell phone. Hypothetically speaking.

My son is now in grade one and survived the daycare jungle unscathed. He is a sensitive, loving child and is popular at school, but still I worry. His little sister is special. He doesn’t know this yet. Not really. My husband and I are in agreement that he needn’t be burdened with medical details and information. He wouldn’t understand. Hell, we don’t understand it half the time either! His little sister is indeed little and has speech and gross motor delays and extreme feeding issues. He thinks his sister’s challenges stem from the fact that she doesn’t eat enough. I’m fine with him believing that. He is aware however of what it means to have special needs. I was forced to explain this to him after a recent speech appointment. A child with Downs Syndrome in the waiting room with us, was screeching. My son whispered, “Mummy, that girl is being very rude.” On the way home I explained about her behaviour. He said, “Avery has special needs. She needs us to help her learn to talk better.” A few minute later he started pointing to objects in the car, repeating the words slowly and clearly, trying to teach her. Oh my god it made me cry (which is not great when you’re trying to merge onto the highway).

Yesterday, my son told me that he feels like crying when he hugs his sister. That she makes him feel sad. He was trying to say, but couldn’t articulate, that he feels protective. He told me that some of his friends were teasing him, saying that his sister was so small that babies are born bigger than her.

On the teasing spectrum, it was small potatoes. But what makes my mama lion mane stand on end is this: As my son gets older, he will become more aware of the challenges his sister is facing.

How will this sensitive boy of mine deal with it? It is very likely that he will take on the role of protector. It’s hard enough trying to find your own way without having to worry about or protect somebody else. I don’t want that for him, but I also know that it’s not really my choice because I’m quite certain that this boy also has the heart of a lion.

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  • You have an amazing son. Your daughter is so very lucky to have an older brother who is already so protective of her. You should be very proud of both your children! But as a mom, I too would have been in tears on that drive when he was pointing out different objects for her. That is so sweet.
    As for the teasing thing at school, I don’t know how I’m going to deal when my son enters school next year. I know I’d be mad if another child made my son cry. I had my share of bullies attacking me when I was younger – once I got beat up for not running fast enough in a relay race by a much bigger girl. This was in grade 7. After I told on her, she suddenly wanted to be friends with me. Anyway, good luck with everything. You’re a great mother!

  • I have tears welling up. Isn’t it amazing to watch such a beautiful relationship grow. Avery and Sebastian are so lucky to have each other. I’m sure they will bring out the absolute best in each other.

    By the way — some little brat at school told Morgan that she was going to break into our house and hurt Quinn. Morgan was beside himself about it. Does this really have to be part of growing up?

  • What a beautiful and touching story. I think your son will be a caring and loving protector for his sister – just the way it should be. It will become second nature to him to understand her needs, to express them to others and to help her in every way he can. That’s just what siblings do.

    And I totally relate to moments you vividly remember from grade school – isn’t grade six the worst? I remember girls being mean to me in grade five and six and I swear I NEVER got over that stuff – isn’t that nuts? And I agree, it’s worse as a teacher b/c you see it from another side. It’s just awful, I talk to my son every day about how mean and hurtful it is to bully other kids (he is only five and in j/k), and I just pray that he *gets* it. Yep, this mommy job is pretty emotional draining sometimes, isn’t it??? At least you know you’re not alone 🙂

  • Wonderful post! I hope that my sons protect their sisters this way. Kids can be so cruel. I try to instill in my children not to be cruel or tease.

    Hugs and Mocha,
    Stesha

  • I’m with you. I consider myself a strong person, and yet I had a time when I was bullied, too. So when it happened to my daughter, I was beyond mad, sad and frustrated. Because when you get bullied it doesn’t matter how strong you are, you still feel small and insignificant. And she is much more of a gentle soul than I’ve ever been. She didn’t deserve it! But then, who does?

    You are right, kids are mean. And unfortunately many parents won’t take responsibility for it, they just shrug it off. But being mean is never ok, no matter the age.

  • “If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell.”

    ~Lance Armstrong

    You will find ways to arm your son with what he needs, the same way you have surely already gone through more than you ever would have thought possible facing medical challenges with your daughter.

    Loved this post. I often joke that I would happily throw myself under a bus for either of my kids…well, I have to admit I’d probably happily throw someone else under there too. I can’t even imagine what I will be like if someone hurts them or bullies them. 😉

    Sounds like you have TWO special and amazing kids. They are blessed to have each other…each will be more because of the other. My son will pat my infant daughter and sing “we’re gonna look after you forever, we’re gonna look after you forever…etc.” I can’t wait until she is old enough to truly receive this love.

    Very much enjoying your blog.

    Jen

  • Lisa, you are an amazing and strong mom. Your children are both exceptional little people, needless to say they learn from their amazing parents! Have you ever thought of writing a book? The way you write is thought provoking and inspiring! I wish I was closer to you so that I could be of some kind of help, but be assured, I’m thinking of you and wishing you all the strenth you need. All my love to you and your family.
    Moique

  • Lisa:

    Your Mom sent me your latest blog and I can't believe what you and your family have had to go through. You are one plucky lady and my heart goes out to you. I can't imagine what you've gone through thus far and I cried throughout reading all your comments. You are all in my thoughts.

    Dorothy

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