Sunday, May 31, 2009

"He has a very small repertoire...

of insults."

Thus said my boy about a friend of his who dissed my kid's new quick-dry, zip-off-leg, built-in-sunscreen pants. The friend said they look like nurses' pants.

Once he said that I realized that because of their green color (somewhere between khaki and forest) they look a bit like scrubs. Yeah, like nurses wear - and doctors.

We got the pants for a Boy Scout canoe trip, and because they were on sale and I had a coupon (in other words, they were really cheap). He approved the color. And he still seems to like them, despite his friend's comment. He doesn't understand insulting comments about clothing, because he really doesn't care about clothing. Oh, he wouldn't wear pink pants, but pretty much as long as his clothes are comfortable and functional, who cares? And why would anyone else care what he is wearing?

Still, he was a little upset over that and other things that happened at a recent get-together. He hasn't had a lot of exposure to mean kids, or kids who are generally nice but under certain circumstances (like around bigger boys), make nasty comments. Last year he had a little trouble with a few guys in his Little League team, and once a few years ago at a summertime day camp when some boys didn't like our last name. Those were pretty isolated incidents. So he hasn't really developed the ability to take such insults in stride, or respond to them.

Now opponents of homeschooling might say well, this is your fault for keeping him out of school where he would have been exposed to this more and learned how to deal with it. Well, maybe so, maybe not. Maybe relentless exposure would have further demoralized him and made him withdraw into a shell (my own personal experience), or made him just as mean as the meanest boy around. Hard to tell. I'll go with this: having less exposure, not more, is the healthier option.

In any case, we talked about the stupidity of insulting someone for their clothes, and I tried to coach him on the proper response: why do my clothes bother you? It's hard to teach him the withering glance and disdainful tone of voice.

In the end, he shrugged it off with the comment about the boy's repertoire of insults. And we had to laugh.


Sandy said...

First of all, I love your son's comment. Perfect. My kids will love it. Second, this reminds me of a conversation my kids and I had about what it means to be 'cool'. The conclusion we came to is that the actually 'cool' people, not the ones just trying to look cool, are the ones with humility- strength under control. In other words, they could lose their temper or get upset, but they usually don't. Not only do they not care if you like their clothes, they are too busy doing what they do to even notice. If you don't have anything better to do with your time than insult people's clothes, they probably won't have much time for you. It's unfortunate, and always a little hurtful, that these things happen, but I think if we handle it right, these kinds of situations can be opportunities to teach our kids leadership skills as well as empathy. Next time, it will likely be someone else who is being insulted and your son will know how to respond.

DADvocate said...

I love your son's comment. I hope you son can understand that kids that say things like that are often unhappy and/or jealous. And, of course, sometimes just plain old mean.

I don't know if you talk or tell you kids such things, but kids who say things like that are generally losers. A quote I like which reminds me to rise above such things (but never allow yourself to be bullied) is "The best revenge is success."

Mrs. Darling said...

Peter has had more than his share of insults hurled at him poor boy! The kids in the neighborhood here are so mean! He's 8 but he hasnt learned yet how to react-even though it happens daily!

I wish I could protect him but hubby says to let him go. Yesterday I walked with him to the neighbors to check out a situation that I thought was a potential set up for Peter. As I was walking down there Peter says,"I'm going to walk over here because I
m afraid IM going to be embarrasesd."(sp?)

He's caught between wanting mama to fix things and wanting to be the big boy! Life is tough for our kids. I say shelter them while you can.