The other day some kids were mean to Amani. Not the innocent kind of mean; mean-mean. The kind of under the radar, sneaky I'm-asking-you-a-question-but-really-I'm-making-fun-of-you kind of mean. These two little eight year old twerps were asking Amani to read words and smirking at each other because she can't read. What the Hell? She's five! Why were they acting like assholes to a five-year-old who can't read?
Amani had no idea that they were making fun of her. She was sweet and genuine in her responses, which only made it worse. "No, I don't know that word but I can read a few. Do you want to see me write my name?"
I am totally unprepared for this. I couldn't really intervene because Amani would realize that the kids were making fun of her, and that would have only made things worse. I just wanted to grab those little shits by the shoulders and shake them, "What is your problem?"
The whole situation is not helped by my personal history. I was picked on a lot as a kid. Whenever I asked for help, adults often just blew me off. I got a lot of, "He just likes you"; "It will get better when you're older"; "Consider the source"; "Try not to be so sensitive"; "Just stay away from them". Then there was a fan favorite, "What does it matter what other people think?". I HATE when people ask why I care what other people think. Ummm...the human need for approval is one of the foundations for a civilized society, so I guess I care because... I'm not a sociopath?
People gave me all kinds of ideas as to why I invited so much ridicule, and what I was doing wrong. Huh, I had never really thought about it that way, but that is in fact, what a lot of people did. Most people did not try to help me. Instead they tried to give me reasons as to why I invited ridicule. It's funny that in the adults mind the ridicule was not the problem. I was the problem. Maybe that's the case; I think I was pretty immature and I admit that little weird. Maybe that's why so many kids seemed genuinely offended by my presence. Oh, and also, kids are assholes. It would have been really nice if an adult had acknowledged that.
Now there is the Internet, and God help me, I have no idea what I am going to do about that. I'm going to keep working on it, but for now I am going to start by acknowledging that other kids can be really mean and she does not have to put up with it.