I’m (Not) With Stupid

We had a mood last night.

Actually, the honeymoon of the whole back-to-school-after-the-holidays-thing is officially over. That happened this morning. But that’s another story involving another Bad Mom situation: The debate over whether to allow the 5 and 7 year olds to drink their Carnation Instant Breakfast from a sippy cup. I’m sure I’ve already done permanent damage both physical and psychological (and I’m just talking about my husband) so I’ll let that one be its own blog post, someday. Maybe.

Back to last night. Sophie was exhausted. She napped on Monday but not on Tuesday and by 6, the day had caught up with her — and then some. Actually, she hit her second wind (third? fourth? fourteenth?) when I got home, but there was a fly in her ointment.

Annabelle and I had run into Deborah and Anna at aftercare, and decided it would be a swell idea to throw an impromptu dinner party, if you can call Safeway meatloaf and soup served on my all-but-covered-with-crap dining table any sort of a party.

Truth be told, Deborah and I have made parties out of far less. I always feel guilty, because she’s so groovy (e.g., the not-matching-but-went-together leopard coat and gloves she wore on a Tuesday night) but she is always gracious about my mess, both specific and cosmic.

That’s a real friend.

Usually, Sophie and Deborah are fast friends, but last night Sophie would have none of it. “STOP TALKING!” she kept telling Deborah, as we tried to catch up on holiday gossip and work news. All Sophie wanted to do was cuddle in peace, her chicken nuggets long ago gobbled, her eyes starting to flag. And she wanted to do it without background noise. (And I know what Ray will say, and he’s right.  Too much going on. Should have had a quiet night. But really, this was one — and you should have seen how happy Annabelle and Anna were to see one another….)

“She’s jealous,” I whispered over the top of Sophie’s head, carrying her off to bed. Even on a tired night, bed is a multi-layered ritual. This night, Anna was called in to choose the pajamas. (The “Sleepy Head” shirt and ballerina pants.) Sophie chose the diaper (Cookie Monster, of course), brushed her teeth, peed.

Deborah and I continued to chat quietly through all of it, and Sophie seemed more focused on her stuffed Piglet, til — as I was pulling her PJ shirt over her head — she looked up at me and quietly said, “You’re stupid.”

I snapped to.

“DID YOU JUST CALL ME STUPID?” I asked in a quiet but all-caps kind of voice.

“Yes,” came the tiny reply.

Sophie knows better. For a while, years ago, she’d get really hot and heavy with her current insult (for several months it was “YOU’RE MEAN!” usually directed at strangers in the mall who made the mistake of being in her general vicinity) but I’ve noticed she’s catching on faster these days.

Still, she has a hard time parting with “stupid,” mainly because she knows it really gets to us. Often, she aims it at Annabelle, who always cries.

We’ve had some big, huge time outs over it. For obvious reasons.

“OK, Sophie, you know we don’t call people stupid.” I paused. “At least, not to their faces.”

Deborah had to stand in the doorway, out of sight, shaking with laughter. I tried not to smile.

“You know, Sophie,” I said, “someday you might just understand the irony of calling people stupid.”

“Oh, I think she gets that now,” Deborah said. I’m sure she’s right.

Sophie is anything but stupid, and yet she faces a lifetime of the label — both to her face and behind her back. I grapple with the word. Not when it comes to my kids; they’re simply not to use it. But as I recounted the story to my mother today, I explained that there’s actually a whole movement — one I’m not so sure I like, given my desire to let people use the words they want to use, except for certain ones like “retarded” when it’s not a medical term, though that’s yet another blog, I suppose — against using words like stupid and idiot.

“And moron,” I added. “So what are we supposed to call people?”

We moved on to “nerd” and “dork” and the notion that those are now compliments. Never did answer the question.

In any case, I’ll schedule our next play date with Anna and Deborah for a time when Sophie’s a little better rested.

And maybe we should just call people by their names.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I’m (Not) With Stupid

  1. Nothing like having it said without the fluff. That’s kids.

  2. Robert Polk

    I’d like to reply topically, but I have little to contribute in that vein, except to say that all three of my sons have shown some retardation, but only one son has DS. (How did you break your skateboard? “A pickup ran over it.” Where were you when the pickup ran over your skateboard? “I was on it.” It’s hard to be an atheist with that kind of insurance from the Holy Spirit.)

    But it’s time express this thought, as it has come here previously, then tonight the Cookie Monster diaper brought it up:

    For those who don’t know me, my Ryan is a high functioning 30 something person with DS. Like Sophie, he wore a “nighttime diaper” (that’s what we called it, thus quotes) until he was around six.

    When he was toddling, we were puzzled why the little turkey had not developed, er, manifested the skill to drink unassisted from his tippy cup. Then one day I saw him use two hands to pick up the dog’s bowl and drink from that. Thereafter Ryan was required to drink from the tippy cup when he became adequately thirsty, without no needless help from the parents!

    Likewise, around age six, he was going to spend the night with his cousin at Grandma Bootsie’s house. Cousin Melissa, 18 months younger but developmentally normal, teased Ryan about his nighttime diaper. Ryan, offended, attempted to refuse to wear it.

    Grandma wisely made him a deal: “Stay dry tonight and you won’t have to wear it tomorrow night.” It was his last diaper.

    Sophie wont’ wear her overnight diaper forever. And who cares. My octogenarian mom wears ’em.

  3. Yeah, we have the name issue as well. It helps that we are friends of the Arc…because a lot of people just don’t know and are thus STUPID about the things they say.

    But you didn’t hear that name from me.

    I hate when they push our buttons, even at the best of times it’s hard not to react. I think I’m doing well and then suddenly it’s like POW! I’m on par with a 7-year old. Logically you can look at any situation and know what you should have done, but the actual doing part is always the toughie.

  4. Kittymama

    My goddaughter’s mom doesn’t let anyone use the word “stupid,” and no one in sight has any developmental disability. She’s very sensitive in that I-have-a-stick-up-my-bum-and-no-one’s-allowed-to-hurt-my-feelings kind of way (and obviously she also wants her daughter to learn some politeness, as in not calling people names). When it’s early in the morning, though, I’d still like the option of muttering, “Stupid sun. Stupid birds.”

    I’m in Indiana right now with my friend who’s 4, and it’s always newly fascinating how little kids can drive people so nuts . . . sometimes they know exactly what they’re doing and other times they’re acting on such primal impulses.

    It’s also interesting when you’ve only ever used phrases like “Shut up!” or “F*** you!” as jokes, and then you say one of them to someone who grew up having them meant seriously, and of course they go ballistic.

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