**UPDATE**I had previously (yesterday) used the generic name "Steve" for my mystery person until I was gently reminded that my dad's name is Steve. Um...this was NOT my dad that hurt my child. Name has now been changed to something more appropriate. There was no conneciton AT ALL between my choice of names and my father!!!
HE SAID WHAT?
Give me a few moments to compose myself and get this post out in a cohesive manner (i.e. without screaming and making no sense because I am so upset) and you'll be thinking just that. Fortunately, this 'incident' happened just over an hour ago, so I have had some time to get my anger under control and am now calmer than I was. I feel that I should also warn you that when I get emotional about something, the post will take on a life of its own. This will probably be a very long post because I am so upset and have a lot to say on the matter.
I feel that I need to offer just a short (and by short I mean lengthy) background on my daughter Abbey. She is a very intelligent girl, yet at the same time is developmentally delayed. She has been in speech, occupational, and physical therapy for the last 3 years and has excelled. This year is the first year that she hasn't received occupational and physical therapy. Not because she didn't still need them; rather it is because she goes to private school and physical therapy is not provided to her through the local S.N.A.P. after-school program. She could get occupational therapy if we need to add it back in, but they just do not have the physical therapists because she is not enrolled in the public school system. She is still getting speech therapy through the public school and will continue to until she no longer needs it.
With regards to occupational therapy, she struggles to grasp a pencil (pen/crayon/marker/scissors) correctly. She holds it in her fist and we constantly have to remind her to "hold it right". She corrects it when reminded but her instinct is to go back to what she knows and is comfortable with.
She does still has trouble in some areas concerning physical therapy: catching a ball, balancing, hopping on one foot, skipping. Simple things that we take for granted. We are hoping that she will eventually catch up. If the problem becomes too detrimental to her in a school setting, we will look at paying out-of-pocket for a physical therapist.
All that being said, that girl is determined. She tries hard and she doesn't give up. Her teacher always tells me what a great student she is and that she is an example to the other students of working hard and staying on task. Even if something is difficult for her (and there are many things that are more difficult), she doesn't quit. She keeps pressing on. Most of the time she has such a great attitude about it too. There are times that she feels bad and criticizes herself. Two years ago, I can remember her telling me through tears that she would "never learn to read." What she failed to realize is that she was spelling her name and recognizing her siblings' names, so I assured her that she was already reading and would continue to learn. And I was right. She is reading right on track (if not slightly above) the other first graders in her class. So while she has a positive attitude 99% of the time, like most of us, she questions herself and sometimes believes that she isn't capable of doing certain things that others her age can do.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons that Abbey has this special place in my heart. It isn't that I love her more. It isn't that I think she's a better kid than the others. It's that she just tugs on my heart strings. There is something about her, that I can't even put into words, that just wells up within me whenever I see her and talk to her. She brightens up any room she is in. She's silly and outgoing and loves everyone with passion and complete abandon. She is a happy, happy girl. How she lives up to her name Abigail, that means Father's Joy. She brings joy to everyone she meets.
This winter, my wonderful mother-in-law paid for Abbey to take an enrichment class at school: DANCE. I knew that Abbey would love this. She is all about expressing herself. Her favorite outfit is jeans, a skirt over the jeans, any multi-colored shirt that doesn't match the rest of her outfit and boots if she has them. Sometimes she will even throw a dress on over all of that, or wear one underneath her shirt. The girl LOVES layers!! And because of her personality, it doesn't matter what she is wearing--she looks great! She has such confidence and pride; it just exudes from her entire being. Some days I look at her and wish I had even an ounce of the confidence she naturally possesses. Abbey also expresses herself with her words. Like her mother, she says whatever she is thinking, though she hasn't quite grasped the concept of a filter. So every time she tells me that I should be on The Biggest Loser, or buy some product to make me skinny, I have to explain to her that some things are better left unsaid! We'll get there some day...
I have been very excited about Abbey's dance recital that was to come at the end of her class. We made sure that we left work early enough so we were sure to be on time. I did not want to miss a minute of it. I know my Abbey and you know how there is always that one kid that stands out in a school or church program? That one that doesn't move as in synch as all the others? The one that is carefree and while aware there are others around her, proceeds to do her own 'thing' anyway? That's Abbey. I beam with pride when she 'performs' and want to shout "That's MY kid!!" She is free-spirited and I find her absolutely fascinating. So I was truly excited about watching her perform tonight.
And (I will post pictures and a video later) the program was great. It was short and funny and cute. Abbey did an awesome job, especially when you know her background. When you know the trials she faces on a regular basis and you know that things like dance in particular do not come easy for her, you can really grasp and appreciate what an accomplishment this is for her.
However, the joy of the experience was shadowed for Abbey. I have a person in my life who interacts often with my children and plays a part in their lives. We're going to call him Idiota (means idiot in Spanish). I will share with you what Idiota said to my child tonight after her dance performance. I saw Abbey getting a hug from Idiota this evening. It seemed to be a really long hug, and this concerned me (because I'm
paranoid overly cautious), so I told Abbey to come over to me. She obeyed (what a good girl!) and then looked at me and said to me "Idiota said that I could have done better but I tried my best."
--INSERT "HE SAID WHAT?" HERE--
No, you did not misread that. He told my seven year old child that she could have done better. OK, I was not right beside them when this conversation took place; I was standing off to the side so I could not hear his words. I do not know if anything positive was said before that comment was made, but sadly I have a feeling it was not, based off of past experiences. All I know is that Abbey came over to me and said (let me type it again) "Idiota said that I could have done better but I tried my best." She was (OBVIOUSLY) concerned and I could tell that she was now feeling very self-conscious. This all took place literally within 10 minutes of her dance!
At that point, I kept replaying it over and over again in my mind and we chose this time to leave. I went outside with Abbey and Livvy and proceeded to assure Abbey that she did an awesome job and that I was so glad I got to watch her. I told her that she did her best and that I could tell she did her best. I could hear the doubt in her voice as she told me that she made some mistakes and before she could continue on with that line of thinking, I jumped in and assured her that even though she might have made some mistakes, the most important thing was that she had fun and did her best. And I told her that I loved it and thought she did a great job!
But on the inside, my heart broke for her. As a mother, you want to protect and nurture your child and to ensure that NOTHING crushes their spirit. I wanted to cry. Beyond that, I was FURIOUS. Kris came out a few minutes later, and I could tell that he had found out about the incident, because he had this look of "WHY???" on his face. He was quite upset himself and for him to get upset, it's bad. Because MANY MANY things annoy and upset me. Very little rattles that man of steel.
Children are known for being resilient and I know that Abbey will move on and probably forget that this all happened. At least I hope that she does. It will be much more difficult for me to move on. Yes, I will forgive this person, though it will not be an easy task for me. But I will continue (as I already do) to try to limit the amount of interaction my children have with this person. They are my #1 priority and I will not have them grow up thinking that they are worthless and unloved. And if there is someone in my life who (even if it is unintentional) speaks careless words that encourage those negative feelings towards themselves, I will NOT tolerate it. I will do whatever I have to in order to provide a safe and loving environment for my children. They are loved and cherished and no one is going to tear them down as long as I am able to prevent it.