I come from a judgy family. Mom and Stilla are people who knock others down to lift themselves up. I was and still am like them except my stroke put a bright light on this issue; I could suddenly see how toxic that negativity is to me, my family, and everyone around us. Becoming a newly disabled person put a lot into perspective for me. I’ve been trying ever since to be a better person, to judge less and know more; be more aware of how I behave, react and respond. I barely “started” to care near the tail end of my twenties after a highly corrosive depressive state so sometimes I need to be reminded why we don’t judge. I especially need to keep this in mind so my boys don’t grow up to be assholes like their mother.
Apparently, something out in the universe decided I needed a refresher course in not judging others in one weekend. I’m not sure what the lesson is but I feel these three incidents are somehow related. I can’t remember the order they happened [blame the brain injury] but I’m positive they happened between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon.
- This woman was pulling into the parking lot as we were leaving one morning. Skas quickly informed us she’s a mean woman. Apparently she yells anytime they play near her unit. She has a stand alone unit while our building has 4 apartments so there’s a gap between the two buildings with a tree and some grass the neighborhood kids like to play near. I asked if he knew the boy in 19 (her unit; we identify people we don’t know by their apartment numbers). I explained that her son requires a lot of care and that’s why he’s never outside. His legs don’t work and he’s on breathing machines. I see an oxygen truck come every few weeks, a medical delivery truck, therapists and I’ve seen the parents carry the boy from the house to the car but other than that I don’t know anything about them. That morning Skas received a lesson in judgment; I told him that mother has to care for that boy who probably just wants to run outside with him; maybe he’s sleeping or is having a “bad day like mommy sometimes does” and she wishes for you to play somewhere else. Not everyone is mean; sometimes they’re tired from the stress. He actually said to me, “that makes a lot of sense but now I feel bad.” And then I had to explain why it’s okay to feel bad but why he shouldn’t (another post for another day).
- I try my best to keep my interactions with the mirror short and sweet. The less I study myself, the better I feel so we have no full length mirrors or scales in our house. I only weigh myself at the doctors and examine my waist in the TV when it’s off to make sure my pants aren’t too saggy or my shirts too short. Every now and then, however, I’ll pass a mirrored column in a department store and pause to examine myself in hi-def. It’s usually a quick twist, checking out the walkaway view and whatnot (it’s not bad). At the store recently, I stood between two clothing racks and checked out my adorable mini love handles in a new sweater I found for $2 in an outlet. I noticed this vato looking dude approaching in his flannel coat with his hands stuffed low in his pockets. He not only had neck tats and a teardrop tat but he also had that lowrider stride that is calm and cool, like, no worries, eh homes? So I rushed to make my twist quick but I’m slow and he reached me at an awkward angle. I expected a comment, a stare, a whistle, or for him to do something rude or something but all he did was smile, nod and wave a hand for me to continue (maybe he didn’t know I was checking myself out?). I told him in my little voice, somehow Trump-ified by this guy or something, that he could go ahead and he said in a calm and polite voice, “Thank you, miss.” And then he bowed out of my way. Wow, so scary, Kt.
- I’m doing my best to be that parent that encourages her kids to be whoever they want as long as they are happy and good people. I see other parents “winning” by seeming naturally accepting of their children that don’t fit the societal norm. I’ve already accepted my boys as they are…or so I thought. I guess because of the way things and people are portrayed in the media/s I only thought of embracing their opinions and assuring them that sexuality is not something anyone needs to accept but to just let be (I guess that’s how you’d word it?). As if these things are all that matter while helping them develop into grown people. And then Skas emerged from his bedroom dressed and ready for the store…
Now, this kid…okay… Look at him! There are three, three, of my biggest pet peeves going on here! His shirt is tucked in, he’s not only wearing sweat pants during the day with sneakers but they are the kind with the elastic ankles. He looked like a big doofy nerd and the part of me that thinks she’s protecting him wanted to send him to his room to change because that is embarrassing to me; like I never taught him how to dress? I didn’t make him change. I asked him once if he was ready to go, he said “Yup!” with all the enthusiasm of an 8 year-old and we left.
It’s not my job to tell this kid how to dress anymore. If he doesn’t dress how I would dress with his wardrobe, it is not my place to do anything more than let him express his personality through his clothing. And, lastly, so what if he is a big doofy nerd?! Why would I find that embarrassing? If he’s comfortable, why did I feel compelled to shame him? Isn’t that what I would have been doing in the end? How could he possibly accept who he is as he grows if I’m there to cast doubt on his personal decisions? We all make “mistakes” while trying to find our outer identity– the part of us we use to represent our personalities as we face the world around us. If helping him find himself means tucking his shirt in when it’s totally unnecessary or wearing sweatpants out in public without rollers in his hair and house shoes, then I won’t stand in his way. And if he decides this is what he likes then it becomes my job to help him remain confident and not let others [like me] cause him to doubt who he is on the inside. I love my son enough to let him set his nerdom free without my judgment.