Monday, February 22, 2010
After being married to my mother for 43 years, in his late 80s, my father married twice more when my mama died. He personified the saying, "There's no fool like an old fool" with the last wife. One of his wives (hesitant to say "step-mother" here) mentioned very casually one morning, "Oh, time was when we would have called Taylor a Mongoloid Idiot." Um....Vomit. I could probably have lived the rest of my entire life without ever having heard that sentence. But, it was spoken and it sometimes rings in my head. It must have pushed an old button from my childhood. My father, was both saint and sinner--maybe more of a sinner...it's hard to say. In his attempt to spur on his eight children---to climb to our highest heights, live life successfully, become all that we could be....he would say(Shout? Scream?)when we disappointed him, "Are you going to be a G-Damn Idiot all of your life?!" Atta boy, J.T., way to motivate your children to live out our vast potentials. (You can see that I may have a whole other blog waiting here, but I won't go there .....just now.)
Having been a teacher forever---35 years at least--I am on the record to say that it is absolutely never ever acceptable or appropriate to call a child an idiot. Ever. It's unconscionable actually. There is just not enough "White Erase" out there to wipe those words out of our psyches. Forty thousand affirmations later and I can still hear my inner voice begging to be heard, "You are smart and capable." Idiot. Mongoloid Idiot. What were they thinking?
It is true that Taylor does not have a high IQ. (I tried to cheat on a few of IQ tests for him, but I think it brought his score down even further.) But, an idiot? Why, what on earth would that mean anyway? Well, actually here's what it means literally: blockhead, bonehead, cretin, dimwit, dork, dumbbell, dunce, fool, ignoramus, imbecile, jerk. Had enough? Looking over that list, I do not recognize one word as it relates to Taylor. I do, however, see a few that might describe me.
My father was wrong in his attempts to "inspire" his eight kids to thrive in college. He was sinner and saint.....like.....like......oh, yeah, like all of us.
On the day Taylor was born, my parents drove 500 miles to my hospital bed. The very first words that came out of my father's mouth were these: "Not many people can have a baby like this, M. You are so special. He is so special. I will love Taylor with all of my heart." And my daddy did. It's taken me years and much soul searching, but I have realized that any harmful words ever spoken to any of us have only to do with the person saying them. It's always own fear of our own "stuff" that scares us, provoking us to call others full-of-shame names. It's our stuff; nobody else's. Idiot. Who?
Maybe that's why words like, "Forgive them" keep us awake at night. Forgiveness is a good thing. It unclogs our hearts and our lives and our vast potential. It urges us to look inward towards our own stuff. Have you got any saints or sinners in your life that you need to forgive? Forgiven? Who?