Spoiler alert: my son is not a midget. How is that relevant? Or even an appropriate word to use in the year 2018? Read on.
It’s a complicated time to be a parent. Many of us had full lives and jobs, were striving for the brass ring for many years before we gave birth to our children.
For many of us type A humans, we then become type A parents — bound and determined to give our kids The Best and to push them to be The Best. To get them on the Best sports team, to push them toward the Best college.
I generally have no opinion whatsover about any one person’s kids or parenting style. I have enough on my plate as it is, and don’t have time to worry about anyone else.
Until someone else’s parenting style affected my child.
My 7 year old son, we’ll call him L, is on a soccer team. He enjoys it, and likes running around with his friends. He is terrible at soccer, and the team has not won a single game. But, if he doesn’t care, I don’t care.
The soccer season just ended. A few days later, I bumped into the coach of L’s team. She said hello and paused for a moment, biting her lip.
One of the other mothers on the team was concerned that our team had lost every game. So concerned that she reached out to the league and the coach, writing in an email that L is a “midget”. And because of his medical status and size, our team should get to play against younger kids. She then told the league that she would be able to get L’s medical records to prove it. She did not include me on the email.
Lets unpack this for a minute.
First, I will tell you that L is small. For sure. But, as I alluded to at the beginning of the story (and I was hesitant to include this because its not actually relevant): he is not a Little Person. And I don’t think anyone should use the word “midget.”
Second, if his medical records were relevant to his rec soccer league status, I would have shared them.
Third, this implies that my son’s height has some impact on her son’s achievements. That his height is the reason her son was not scoring more goals and part of a winning team.
(For the record, Leo Messi is 5'7" and considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time.)
Assuming that my son’s height was having an impact on her child’s success was misguided at best. But the most difficult pill to swallow is that she thought she could leverage my son’s height to get her son an advantage on the soccer field. That he could play against easier teams and therefore win more. If she told a lie about my child.
I actually have empathy for the woman who sent this email. I know some of her personal struggles, and I know that this was bourne from an extreme desire to give her child “The Best.” It actually had very little to do with my son.
Parents who need to seek “The Best” for their child at all costs can cause collateral damage. Does giving your kids the best mean they have to step on the heads of those around them? Has parenting become so myopic that you can only see the path for your own children, at the expense of all others?
My kids have multiple Learning Differences (I talked about that here). My kids are going to have to forge their own path, so there is no point in trying to follow the herd.
As a result, I have learned over time to close my ears to the barrage of information that comes from outside of my house. I listen to the voices that are inside my house. First, I want to know my kids are happy. Second, are they learning skills that will make them independent, functioning human beings.
In the end, this woman gets to parent her child any way she chooses. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to give your child an easier path. But I ask that no one do that at the expense of bringing others down. Can we all agree?