I discovered over the weekend that earlier in the summer, a person who doesn't really know my family or children well was talking to one of my children, and 'joked' [I use this term very loosely] that this child's parents must not have been very happy with them, since they went back and got another one.
Just sit with that for a moment.
It is a very, very good thing that I am just now registering this, because had I discovered this in the moment, I would have done a full-on Maya DiMeo. If you have seen an episode of Speechless, then you will get the reference. If you haven't... well... Amazon may still have the pilot for free. You should watch it.) Pretty much, it would not have been a pretty sight. J. has told me that sometimes I wield words more like a weapon than is necessary (those are the posts which do not get published), and a weapon is pretty much what I feel like using. People do not hurt my children and not hear from me.
And my main point would be, some things just are not funny, no matter how often a person insists that they are. There is nothing funny, ever, about implying that a person is somehow a disappointment to their parents; that they did not measure up in such a significant way that the parents felt the need to start over and try again. There is nothing funny about such a pathetic joke even to the most secure, biological child, because at our cores, aren't each of us just a little unsure about our place in the universe? Don't we all secretly feel as though we don't measure up in some way? That we must disappoint people because we are not perfect? Even if a person is unwilling to admit to these deep fears, I'm pretty sure they are there. Where else does competitive parenting come from? Sibling rivalry? Keeping up with the Joneses? We all battle our fears that we are not enough.
So if children who have not lost their first families are prone to these fears, how much more so a child who has had the very worst happen to them? The stories and fairy tales of losing parents are not just fables to these children. They are their reality. Some children have indeed lost parents to horrific and tragic circumstances. Some children have experienced being left behind by the people who were supposed to take care of them and love them the best. Some children have even experienced this devastating level of loss more than once.
These children battle the worries of not being good enough as a chronic state. You can tell a child a million times that they were not the cause of their first parents leaving them, but knowing it in your head and knowing it in your heart are two very different things. The insecurity is always there. The worry that maybe this home and these parents aren't all that permanent, either. What if someone better comes along? What if I mess up one too many times? What if I'm not pretty enough or smart enough or pleasant enough? What if I make these parents abandon me, too?
As a parent, I know that I love my children no matter their outward appearance, or their behavior, or their successes and failures. I tell my children this. A lot. But, the only thing that will convince their hearts is time and an outpouring of love, even when my child is trying to bring about what he or she sees as the inevitable sooner, just to get it over with. That's a lot of love in the face of a lot of pain. It is our usual existence.
So Ms. Funny Pants, tell me exactly how your little 'joke' is helping my child heal in anyway what so ever? To get your jollies, you have now pushed us back more than a few steps, by naming and making light of some very deep seated and real fears. Tell me exactly what is so very funny about making light of someone's pain? Tell me just where is the hilarity in confirming the erroneous assumption of my child's that they are somehow imperfect... undesirable... damaged.
You may call it a joke. I call it something else. Something that I won't write out because I may get a non-family friendly rating from Blogger. This is a problem these days, tendency of people needlessly cause someone else pain, and then adding to that pain by making light of it. "Oh, I was only joking!" Really, all that you are saying is that your emotional comfort is just so much more important than someone else's. Heaven forbid, that person actually say something along the lines of, "I'm so sorry. That was insensitive. I hadn't thought through how that might sound to someone else. Please forgive me." No one is perfect. I'm not expecting perfection, just humility; a willingness to put yourself in someone else's shoes, if even for a moment. It's not political correctness, it's just accepting one another's humanity as being as important as our own.
Oh, and before I'm done, let's just clear up another little item stuck in my craw. As the parent, I don't go shopping for children, hoping to find the best deal, or looking for better ones because I'm unhappy with the ones I have. My children are each precious and beloved. J. and I see each and every one of them as blessings bestowed upon us by a loving God. Blessings, I might add, whom He loves even more than I do, and who are each created in His image. Don't mess with them.