Many moons ago, I gave birth to a twenty-one and a quarter inch, seven pound, fourteen ounce infant. He immediately became my entire world, and I lovingly dubbed him Tiny Tot. His nickname stuck, with only one problem: my child is not tiny.
My child has never been tiny. He’s always been the big kid. As in, the biggest kid in class, the biggest kid in tee ball, the biggest kid in soccer, the biggest kid in basketball, and the biggest kid his age around us.
He moved from a tiny, mewling infant, to a nearly four foot, fifty-four pound, ball of muscle, five year old. I have maintained his nickname over the years, because I love the oxymoron, and he is still tiny, to me. Through each growth spurt, I have handed my wallet to the clothing store clerk, not even bothering to feel jealousy toward the mothers whose children remain in the same clothes for multiple seasons. We never had a size last more than a few months at a time. In fact, as soon as I bought one size, the growing would begin anew.
My son changed sizes three times in one season, and my bank account hemorrhaged accordingly.
He grew, and grew, and grew, and will continue to grow, until he can–without batting an eye–pick his tall, Amazon woman of a mother up.
My child, my green-eyed angel, was also blessed with a heart as big as his size. He’s always been a lighthearted spirit, a happy child, a child who rarely threw fits of epic proportions–but could sprout a thousand tiny hands, and then try to smile his way out of trouble. He’s always been smart, intelligent, quick-witted, and curious about the world around him. He’s always been a slight daredevil–but he scares at the depth of his daring, and shies away from feats that seem too dangerous. He’s always thought of others, and figured out ways to con other children into befriending him, and playing with him.
When I get comments about my tiny human, they rarely vary. “That’s your son? Wow. How old is he? He’s a big kid,” has always been followed up by, “Wow! He sure is a happy child. I’ve never seen any child that happy all the time.”
But, he should be a happy kid, despite his size. I’ve always been a smiler–though I get grumpier with age, especially when I have to drive. I’ve learned that a smile goes farther than a frown, and that hugs make the world better. Therefore, I’ve taught Tiny to understand the importance of showing kindness to everyone.
My big kid was taught the ways of the gentle giant, because I believe in the dying act of chivalry. He’s been taught to be sweet, kind, loving, gentle, and patient. When problems have arisen in the past, and he’s not sure how to respond, I’ve taught him to ask for help, or seek guidance, from the adult in charge. I’ve enforced the idea of using words to voice frustrations. Whining, lying, bullying, and screaming have never been acceptable, tolerated, behaviors. Communication has been learned, because communication opens pathways to understanding why certain things occur.
As my son has grown older, however, I’ve become more worried. I’ve worried that my teaching, discipline, and parenting wasn’t enough to prepare him for the negativity of others–especially other children. It started when my son told me he was being picked on at preschool. My child, with his sweet, lighthearted disposition, hasn’t always understood when children are being cruel. He hasn’t always figured out that not everyone responds the same way he does. Therefore, when the children at school started calling him a baby, and then told him they hated his new hair cut, he was devastated.
He started believing that if he was “cool” enough, he would go back to gaining their good graces. Because, why can’t everyone be friends with everyone else, and just get along?
This was my fault–teaching him to be the gentle giant who uses his words kept him from seeing that some kids are just mean–for no real reason.
Well, I could think of a few reasons, but I won’t.
After the bullying incidents, I asked my big kid if he had told a teacher–leaning on my idea of seeking help when a problem occurs. What I heard made no sense. It baffled me. His teacher, who works for the school that I pay to keep my child safe, while I work to keep a roof over our heads, told Tiny that she doesn’t “like” tattle tellers.
That logic might be understood if my child was a tattle teller. My child has the ability to jabber on about Power Rangers, Superheroes, and the Big Bad Werewolf at Grandpa’s House for hours on end. What he has never done, however, is tattle. He’s learned to voice real problems. He’s learned to express when he needs an adult to handle a situation bigger than him.
As Tiny’s mother, I’ve made an effort to mold an ideal of gentle, sweet, caring, kind, and helpful. This big kid–my big kid–has been taught to use his words, not his size, to deal with his frustrations. So, within the span of a school year, my parenting strategies have been unraveled, and it’s worried me.
I’m officially worried.
I’m worried for the bullies who see his kind spirit, and feel the need to deteriorate his worth. I’m worried for the teachers who take away the coping techniques I’ve put in place when my son feels he’s been wronged. I’m worried for the fallout of my sweet, sweet child, when his emotions are backed into a corner, and the teacher’s phrasing, “Don’t tattle tell” wars with my phrasing, “Tell an adult.”
As the mother of the big kid, the biggest kid, I’m afraid of the day that I will receive a call and hear that my child used his size, because he wasn’t allowed to use his words.