Two days ago, my kids got off the school bus full of indignation. A fourth-grader had looked at my sweet Tonka sitting in the designated-Kindergarten seats at the front, and as he settled into his seat near Creative Cat at the back, announced, “OH GREAT. We’re on the bus with the Chinese kid with the busted-up nose!” I can’t even type the words without wanting to bust up HIS nose.
Thankfully my kind, socially-skilled Creative Cat heard him and stood up to him. She told him, “That’s my brother and you shouldn’t say that.” I’m so proud of her. The
jerkface kid decided to move away from Cat, and took up a seat closer to the front, right behind Tonka. According to Tonka, the boy then said hurtful things for the rest of the time he was on the bus, although there are no other witnesses to this and the words Tonka reported to me were more like what Tonka says when he’s upset. Whether the kid said anything else or not, Tonka had heard his initial pronouncement and he was hurt and angry.
I called the principal and she said all the right things. She apologized to me, which I wasn’t expecting, and she promised me the child in question would face consequences. If it happens again he’ll be suspended from riding the bus for a little while. I feel that the school is handling the incident well. But it still upsets me.
It’s fresh in my mind today because Tonka and I spent the morning making the rounds of various specialists at the children’s hospital. This is Tonk’s annual check-up on hearing, ear-nose-throat doctor, and speech. We’ll check in with the plastic surgeon, dentist, and orthodontist in a few months. We actually got good news this morning – he’s doing exceptionally well and we now only need to go for hearing tests and visit the ear-nose-throat doctor if some need arises. However, the doctor said something small that upset me. She asked me, discreetly, if we had spoken to the plastic surgeon about Tonka’s ears, which flap out at almost ninety degrees to his head. She pointed out that one ear is missing an exterior fold, which makes it stand out even more. She told me the plastic surgeon will be able to repair that and pin both ears closer to his head, and if we do it before Tonka turns 16 it will be covered by our socialized health care. I thanked her for the tip, and I do appreciate it, but it makes me sad that this seems to be the week Tonka’s physical appearance is attracting attention.
I would like to punch the kid who made the comments about Tonka in the nose and mouth. I would like HIM to spend a morning every few months shuffling from one clinic in the hospital to another, for tests and examinations. I would like him to endure surgeries and loss of sensation in part of his face and mouth. I would like him to have to deal with people staring, and talking about him behind his back, and not understanding him when he speaks. I would like that kid to live a day in Tonka’s skin and understand that it’s plenty hard enough to be “That Chinese kid” in a white Canadian family, much less the kid who also has something different about his face.
I think all these vengeful thoughts and then I remember my own Queenie, who says stupid, hurtful things plenty of times. So far she’s managed to keep herself rigidly under control at school, but it’s only a matter of time before the floodgates open. Certainly she says hurtful things to her family all the time. She just doesn’t know she’s hurting us. Or sometimes she does know but she’s so flooded with anxiety and anger that she loses all control. And I wonder if the kid who said those hurtful words about my Tonka has his own special needs.
My friend Mir declared today to be International Special Needs Kids Amnesty Day. My Queenie still passes as normal often enough that she doesn’t need amnesty. Not today. But some time soon, she will. I would like my Tonka to have amnesty from his own skin today. I am trying to give amnesty to the child who hurt my Tonka’s feelings. I won’t talk about him to other parents. I won’t seek out revenge in any way. I will let the principal deal with the situation and trust that she knows the best way to do that. And I will work on letting go of my own feelings of hurt and anger. He’s a kid. Maybe a kid with his own issues. He made a mistake. Hopefully he will learn from his mistake and not repeat it.
Because, seriously, who could mock this face?