Thursday, March 18, 2010

Angry Post

There is a kid that Addie knows and seems to like. Adults have told me that this other child is very interested and engaged with Addie, that she seeks Addie's company during various parts of the day.

Addie and this child have the same skirt. They each count it among their favorites and wear it often, but on different days. The other child has shyly shown interest in seeing if she and Addie could plan to wear it on the same day, just for fun. So I sent an email to her mother to arrange it.

This is part of the response from the mother:

She often asks if Addie can come over for a play date; I've gently explained that it would be too hard for her and for's so cute though.

I will just list in random order all the thought paths this sentence hurls me towards - some less generous with the benefit of the doubt than others. A titch on the passive aggressive side, but responding seems fruitless to me..fruitless like, say, spending time with Addie. Ooh, and I'm off and running! I choose to disclose here that the last month or so has been one of the lousiest spells (apart from the last post, which still buoys me) for our family in a long while. So my rose colored glasses are scratched, bent and otherwise compromised in their effectiveness. So I'm just gonna let 'er rip.

One more time for reference: She often asks if Addie can come over for a play date; I've gently explained that it would be too hard for her and for's so cute though.

- cute, yes. Your daughter is darling for thinking that my daughter might actually be capable of a social event like a play date. Really precious.

- You were gentle, that's nice, I'm relieved you thought to spare your child's sensibilities in this. I hope I can be gentle when I tell my own daughter that her friend's mom doesn't think it'd be worth the trouble to get these two kids who enjoy each other together, that she believes it would be a big drag for everyone. And that her friend will be taught to think the same way. I'll have to think hard about a kind way to tell my girl that the door to this particular friendship is being closed - gently, though - not slammed. That the trajectory of acceptance of differences and inclusive thinking that Addie's friend was on is not being lopped off, per se, but just disconnected irrevocably.

- my initial email was in no way a veiled request to drop my daughter off so I can go get a pedicure. The underlying motivation in trying to grant your daughter's request about the skirt was to make it clear to her that I see how kind she is, how generous she is with her patience when relating to my daughter, that both Addie and I recognize how she voluntarily goes out of her way to be with Addie. And to let your daughter know that Addie likes her, too.

- I get how you yourself might not be up for such a thing (this thing that was never even on the table), but how is a play date hard for 6 year olds? In what ways? And how can you predict that it would be too hard for my daughter, whom you do not know?

- If we, as a family, prevented Addie from being involved in things that might be "too hard" for her and/or for others, our daughters would never have met. My daughter would not be able to communicate at all, she might not be walking, she would not have played soccer, she would not be in scouts, she would not do summer activities alongside her friends, she would not ride horses, she would not know how to swim, she would not enjoy visits to various places in the community, longer trips to other places, she would not swing, slide down the slide, run, enjoy ice cream, she would not have experienced the number of play dates and other things with friends that she has thus far.

- your daughter asks about play dates because Addie tells her about the ones she's had with her other friends, because your daughter has heard other kids talk about these fun times, because she has seen the photos. I'd be willing to bet that nothing your child has come to understand about play dates with Addie would make her think it would be "too hard" for anyone, that the effort would outweigh the return.

- we are both mothers who love our children and want them to grow up confident and valued. Why on earth would you think I would want to hear, much less agree with, your assumption that a social life is beyond my child? Why would you believe that I should twinkle at the naivete of children who might believe in Addie, recognize her contributions and enjoy being with her, that I might wink at their sweet nonsense?

Just like you, I'm raising a family here. And I take solace in knowing that the sentence offered to me above is born of an attitude that is the exception, not the rule.

Your daughter and my daughter are kids, they are schoolmates, they are friends. I think that's what your daughter is trying to enlighten you about. She has my most sincere wishes for success on that.


Bethany said...

I am angry for you, and very sad for Addie's friend who is going to grow up learning lessons of prejudice and forced ignorance. At her young age she is already so much more enlightened than her mother could ever hope to be! And I don't care how gentle her mother is, a load of crap wrapped up in fancy paper with a pretty bow on top is still a load of crap.

Brandi said...

Oh Terri, how hurtful. I love how you have provided all of the opportunities for both of your girls to be involved and have lots of friends. With those friendships come the careless and sometimes hurtful parents that say things we wish we never would have heard. Better yet, the things that they actually think are true, but are not even close to reality.

I hope that someway, somehow Addie can continue to be friends with this little girl and treat her the way that all friends should be treated. Maybe her mom can learn a lesson through Addie, even though she may never have the privilege to do so again.

Yes, this mother is the exception, but I think you, more than anyone, are going to be able to use this as a teaching moment.

I'm sorry for the sting, especially after the month that you have had. I hope your rose colored glasses can get wiped off and cleared up soon because there are a lot of good things ahead!

Kerri H said...

I agree w/Brandi..I would be upset too! Logan would welcome a playdate with Addie any day! These are the mom's that I fear when Logan goes to school.He had his first half day of kindergarten today! Gosh I think he's grown up more than I thought..had an awesome day! Thanks for teaching me Terri and Addie! Love ya!

Alicia said...

Long time lurker here. I have been a huge Addie Fan for almost two years now. And, of course, a huge fan of Cate's, Michael's, and yours as well. Your family's journey is inspirational.

This excerpt from this mother's email to you makes me so angry. She actually thought this was appropriate to say to you? Unconscionable!

More than that, it make me sad. Sad that this little girl's tolerance and acceptance for others who may be different from her is being slowly chipped away at by an ignorant mother. I wonder what this mother's "gentle explanations" were when her daughter asked why Addie couldn't come to play? I feel so bad for this little girl who seems to really like Addie. She is the one missing out. She will miss out on what a ray of sunshine Addie is to be around, except for at school. She will miss out on finding out how exceptionally wonderful it can be to be friends with those who are different from yourself. That is unless she can dig herself out from under her mother's blatant ignorance as she gets older.

I can only hope and pray for that, and for her mother's heart to be changed by really getting to know Addie some day.

angie said...

WOW!! Send it ALL to her....let me help you deliver it to her doorstep:)....she'll open the door and see 2 Mama Bears ready to take her on!! Children are so loving and welcoming of all children at that age.....however, attitudes like that blur their vision as they get older, and that is part of the problem of our society. If we could all just maintain the openess that our children have....the world would be a much better place.

I would LOVE to get our girls together for a playdate:). That would be awesome!!

I think that something must be in the air....March Madness maybe? I've had a tough time this month too. So, as the sun makes its way out from behind the gloom maybe our worlds will brighten a little more too.

Hugs to you Dear Mama! It's a tough journey, but our kids ARE the ones that shine. Other parents should feel PROUD that their kids are even asked to wear the same skirt as our girls:).

thedman1 said...

Wow! What is up with people? Was that really necessary? What could have been easier than just replying "Sure, we can plan a skirt wearing day. How about Monday?"

Kristi said...

my blood boiled when I read this post. I am so offended for you and Addie. What pure ignorance on this mother's part. I am saddened by this.

Disabled NYC said...

"You've got to be carefully taught", indeed.