Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ethics Covered My Ass - Then and Now

Today is a big day.


If Esten's plan goes to plan, anyway. And things could go either way, really.


It took me over an hour of prying between his sobs and snotty tears last night to pull it out of him. He finally managed, "Tomorrow I'm going to do something that will either make you proud or really mad."

Oh shit.

What happened? I wondered. There have been....things....going on this year. He was vaguebooking me and it was pissing me off.

It's the moments as a parent that suspend time, when all of the bad things flash through your brain, what could it be??

And then, he finally spit it out.

A girl at school is being picked on for the way she dresses. He feels bad because this has happened to him this year and also because he had participated in the picking once. His classmates who are standing by her in line will cover their noses with their shirts and move to the back of the line, saying they'd rather be last than have her germs on them.

Cheese Touch, you guys. This is a Cheese Touch situation.

His plan, which he had already discussed with his teacher and expected that she would have emailed me about (she did not) was to apologize either face to face or in writing to the girl for his actions, and to take five minutes out of the classroom time to do a presentation to the rest of the class about why they all needed to stop acting like a bunch of little assholes. And he planned on wearing a super shitty outfit to do it.

Which, to be honest, was about par for what he usually wears. Navy v-neck dress sweater that's just about too small and he rotates through usually on PE day, gray sweatpants that are also just about too small with the right knee blown out, and snow boots.

He left today on a mission, his jaw set, his eyes filled with resolve (and only a little tiny bit of tears), and tummy full of the eggs I promised him last night if he would stop crying and go to bed.

And all I could offer by way of advice was this:

Talk to your teacher. Partner with her to solve this problem. Don't further disrupt her classroom. Don't further embarrass the target of the bullies. Stand by her in line. Find other friends to stand with you standing with her in line. Be prepared for others to make fun of you for doing it. Know that there are a million reasons WHY others might act like assholes, and none of those reasons are probably okay. Maybe they don't get breakfast or attention or sleep or love at home. Maybe they're hearing or seeing the way the adults in their life treat others and they think it's okay. Maybe they think Trump's awesome. Maybe they think they're bigtime tough shit now that they're in the SIXTH GRADE and it's their turn to distribute the shenanigans.

I've been there, but it was junior high for me. And it was jeans. Ethics jeans. Remember those? Other girls had them and I wanted SO BAD to be cool like them and also they were super stretchy and fit me when others didn't because I had a waist/hip ratio that has been described as "the most junk in the trunk I've ever seen on a white girl" by not-a-white-girl, to my face and not in an offensive way. I think.

They were expensive and my mom would NEVER let me have them.

Luckily I waited until she was sick and managed to talk my dad into taking me shopping at the Big V - where they had Ethics jeans and also the giant Levi's wall. And by giant I mean they had the pair of preemie infant Levi's nailed to the wall next to the over-sized giant pair of 60x50s or whatever they were. It was a ridiculous way of acknowledging that boys and men come in all different sizes and they were the go-to place to accommodate and cover them all. But women? You get like...four choices, and if you can't fit into one of them, there is obviously something wrong with you.

So I located these popular pants, and since my dad was generous Mr. Moneybags who kept his "small bills" like twenties and under in his front pockets so his wallet wouldn't put his hips off-kilter, I bought two pairs. I made sure they were identical so my mom would only think I had ONE pair.

I was a manipulative, genius, mastermind little underage ball of hormonal assholery.

I rotated those pants between my body and the washer until one day in the halls at school some dickhole announced that I had "worn the same pair of pants for two weeks straight" and thus was a "dirty disgusting ho bag".

Time stood still. Kids stared. They were flipping back through their memories to validate his claim.

Cheese Touch.

Of course, all these years later I can look back and laugh and forgive him for his off-the-cuff comment.

Just kidding. All these years later I still think that fucker is a fucking fucker and he can rot in hell and I haven't seen or spoken to him since school but if I did the only thing I would tell him is FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FUCK.

My point is, especially during this week when so many kids and adults are unsure and on edge, I am overwhelmingly proud that my kid is willing to admit through big fat sloppy tears that he was unkind and take steps to fix that, and to demand that the leaders in his school start setting a better example for others in their class, and for others in lower grades. Knowing this world has another human - a BOY human - who is willing to stand up for others - for GIRL humans - makes me happy.

Today he is my favorite.

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