Vengeance, prejudice, and jealousy. THIS was what it all boiled down to that day. Another crisis to be autopsied and discussed; just another day in Nonny’s world with three kids ages 9, 7 and 5. I actually love this part of my life. I have a chance to help sort things out when problems arise, hopefully teaching good negotiating skills along the way, not to mention how to forgive and be kind to one another. Laurena once gave me the best compliment ever; she said “Nonny, you teach me so much about life!” She was just 8 then. My hope is by loving her well now she’ll still feel that way at 13 and beyond!
Let’s get back to vengeance, prejudice, and jealousy. Here’s what happened: I come home from doing an errand one morning and was greeted at the door by my mother with terrible news. Laurena was in BIG TROUBLE. She had been sent to her room. Ryan came up from the basement where my computer is and reported that Laurena had called him a “F***ing idiot.” Apparently there had been a disagreement as to whose turn it was on the computer. My mother went on: ”I asked her where she’d heard that word. She said, ‘From Harley’.” Harley is the 7-year-old neighborhood friend who accompanies the kids and I on most of our adventures. I knew that this could not be true. I have been around that child enough to know that this is not how he speaks. NOTE that I say “I knew this”. My mother, for some reason, does not like Harley being around all the time or my taking him with us on our adventures. She said “You know he comes from a rough family. The kids should not be playing with him so much…..etc. etc.” See, Harley is named after the motorcycle company. His dad and mom ride motorcycles. His dad has one of those long skinny goatees. His 16-year-old sister is on a roller derby team. Harley has part of his head shaved with a shock of hair off to the front and side. Sometimes part of it is dyed. Apparently to my mother, all this makes his family “rough”. It hurt me to hear her speak this way about this truly gentle little boy. She was more angry at him then at Laurena.
Time for Nonny to do more investigating. I didn’t like what I was hearing at all. Talking to Laurena, I learned that Ryan had lied. She only called him an “idiot”, not the aforementioned “f***ing idiot.” That’s quite a difference. I asked her then why she blamed Harley. She just hung her head and complained about how he goes everywhere with us. See, her good friend Riley lives across the street from Harley but generally goes places with her mother during the day and so she doesn’t see her as often. Harley is taken care of by his 16-year-old roller derby sister, who sleeps really, really late each day AND, says Harley “….forgets to make me breakfast.” Of course I always feed him, and love doing so. But I digress. What it came down to is that Laurena is jealous of Harley getting to go everywhere with us but not Riley. I was glad she confessed what was REALLY bothering her–nevertheless, she had blamed something on Harley that he didn’t do. I told her what her Great-Grandmother said as a result of her pointing the finger at Harley and how sad that was. Jealousy. It was jealousy that prompted her to cast blame on an innocent person. Discussion of this followed, especially regarding how blaming Harley led to someone else blaming him further for just existing.
Now on to Ryan. He’s only 5 years old but knew this: If I say that Laurena used the “F” word, then I KNOW she’ll really get into trouble! So he lied about what Laurena really said. Now it must be noted here that Ryan has used the “F” word before, to the shock and horror of all, so he understood the magnitude of the word. Vengeance. Ryan was seeking to get revenge for the conflict over the computer with his sister by lying about what really happened. Laurena was sent to her room straightaway without a chance to share her side of the story. I am pretty sure Ryan was pleased with the outcome here.
Now that I know what really happened, I confront Ryan with Laurena’s version of events and he confesses that she did indeed only call him an idiot. I then gather both children and we go to Grandma so she can hear the truth. First of all, Laurena did not use the “F” word, and second, Laurena did not learn the word “idiot” from Harley. I have to say that later when I heard what actually DID happen with regard to sharing the computer, I had to concede to Laurena that it did sound like Ryan behaved like an idiot, that is, in an “utterly foolish” way. Still, we discussed other ways for her to express her frustration than to call anyone an idiot. So Grandma heard the truth, expressed her disappointment and disbelief that they would do such a thing, then went on her way.
Now about prejudice: the whole incident revealed something sad to me. Just because Harley’s family appears to be different, my mother pre-judged them as being “rough” and by extension, unworthy. I feel sad even typing this. All I can do going forward is to model a different way to see people, and highlight for Laurena, Ryan, and Evan what results when vengeful and jealous feelings are acted upon by lying about another person. Especially when prejudice exists.
I’m glad I live here. Because I do, the doctor can always be “IN”.