Sunday, July 20, 2008

Requiem for Self Esteem

Do you know?

And does knowing affect you?

I hope so.

We ate breakfast this morning at a small cafe not far from the house in Baxter. We got up and, what with all the boxes and stacks from moving, we decided to eat out. I settled into my spot at the table and shortly afterwards the table across from us was taken by a young mom and dad with a 5 or 6 year old boy with cerebral palsy. We did the 'nod' thing and went about our business of ordering breakfast and organizing the day.

About midway through the meal Mom asked us if they could borrow the katsup from our table. We handed it across and then fell into a conversation. We told them of the move, they told us that they had moved into the area only a few months ago so could commiserate with us regarding the hassle of it all. We never spoke disability. They introduced themselves and their son, we introduced ourselves. Their son spoke with a fairly heavy CP accent but it's an accent I know so had little difficulty with understanding him. This delighted him. His delight, delighted them. At one point Dad reached over and wiped his son's chin, and a look of both love and respect passed between them. I fogged up.

You can see it when parents love their kids.

Did you know that?

Does knowing affect you?

Later we stopped to get gas because the gas prices had fallen somewhat. I stayed in the car as Joe went into pay. A mom got out of a mini-van follwed by a daughter of, maybe 13. Mom was a pretty, perky fit woman. Daughter, was, um, not. She was very hefty, her clothes looked a size too small, her walk looked laboured. Mom called to her to hurry up. The look that passed from Mother to daughter was shame and anger and disrespect. Mom looked like she'd been cheated by the kid factory, got the wrong size.

You can see it when parents loathe their kids.

Did you know that?

Does knowing affect you?

I hope so.

I desperately, desperately hope so.


rickismom said...

There are SO many things that we have to teach our children. But the first is that we love them. And that is not talk by saying it (Though saying should be done, too), but by:
being flexible once in a while
the warm touch (yes, even private... to that teenage son who blushes at your quick hug)

Anonymous said...

You hit it right on the head Dave, isn't it all just that black and white! Ditto to rickismom's comment! I don't think I have ever missed a day of telling my kids I love them, and I always hug and kiss them goodnight! Self-esteem start at home, with us, the parents!

Anonymous said...

It's called "unconditional love" and it's too bad everyone doesn't have it.

Cynthia said...

I've seen this, too. As always, you say it so well.

Kei said...

I agree Dave, and have seen both looks. The former warms my heart, the latter makes it ache for the child.

imfunnytoo said...

What a great/sad story.

As someone with both cerebral palsy and considerable heft...I've given up on the day that anybody will genuinely see fat people as people first, even as I see progress on the disability side

Anonymous said...

Being given unconditional love at home goes a long way toward making up for the day in, day out pain of not being accepted by the world. It doesn't make the pain go away but unconditional love is like a vaccination given in childhood that prevents the soul sickness of never being good enough. Sadly, there isn't much that can replace that love later on. I know this is true from personal experience. Even though I have many people in my life that love me now I think I will always have an emotional limp so to speak. I love my daughter fiercely and completely and I pray she never feels unloved. Sometimes just looking at her when she is sleeping brings tears to my eyes. And sometimes I still wonder why they didn't love me and even though I know it wasn't my fault I still sometimes feel unlovable. Thanks for letting me share this.

Anonymous said...

i started to write a comment and then deleted it but came back again to try and write a comment. I understand what you are saying in this post and I agree and I absolutely love my kids unconditionally. But even so, I don't think it is as black and white as that. Parenting is a hard job, and parenting a special needs child is even harder. I am very aware of the world around us judging my interactions with my daughter as her disabilities are not the visible kind.
I was a parent for 10 years before my daughter was born. Sometimes even the best and most loving parents have bad days. Teach your children to love unconditionally by example but also teach them compassion for others and please don't judge me by one snapshot you might glimpse as our lives cross paths.