Trigger warning: bullying, homophobic language
Hey. It’s me.
Do you remember when our kids were small? You must, it was just a few years back. We’d set up “playdates” at their request. Your house or ours. Sometimes a local carnival or a trampoline place, or out back at the pool. They’d play for hours, all giggling and mischief, until it got dark. They’d ask for sleepovers. Sometimes, we’d say yes, and sometimes no, and we’d leave, and on the drive home, I’d peer in the rear view as I drove, and see this happy little boy in the back seat, smiling and fulfilled and I’d smile, too.
Do you know today, like many other days now, your son called my son “faggot” in the hallway? Do you know that your son, and many others whom he used to call friends, who used to used to swim in our pool, eat my homemade cookies, beg for sleepovers, have been making it a point for several years now, to call my once happy boy names like that on a daily basis?
Unprovoked. Just because.
Do you know he ate lunch in a bathroom stall over 100 times last year? Because he’s not a “sports kid,” but a “theatre kid,” so the kids who used to be his friends decided “faggot” and “homo” were the best uses of their newly matured 13- year-old vocabulary.
Though I try to help, I often feel helpless. Talking to the school results in further retaliation. He’s reduced to tears everyday. He’s in therapy and medicated now for depression and anxiety. He questions himself daily, his clothing, his hair, his choice of extracurricular activities. All wrong. Always. He was told two weeks ago at his locker that his socks (Adidas socks) were “gay.”
White mid-calf, sports socks.
I send him tons of positive thoughts via text, screenshots of meaningful platitudes. I remind him each day, 50 times a day, how loved he is, how “those idiots” (your son and kids like him) don’t have power over him, how they aren’t bad people, just narrow-minded and insecure, how middle school is the worst and that one day, soon, it’ll be easier, even though it feels never-ending right now. He’ll find people like him, people who will love and respect him for who he is, no matter who he is, and that these jerks (though there will always be jerks) will not dominate his thoughts, his day, his spirit.
I am not a praying person, but I pray for him every day. I pray that what we do, what we give, is enough to pull him through these days and weeks and years.
I pray that he won’t resort to thinking those harsh words hurled at him in the hallways and classrooms and lunchroom are hurtful enough that they snuff his joy and his happiness out for good.
I sit here wondering why it has to be this way. Why I’m spending my paycheck on therapy and medication because your child feels it’s okay to torture my child. That seems unfair, no? I watch him cry. I wait for my phone to ring each day, silently begging for a day of peace for him, and, oh wait, there it is … 1:32 pm. A text.
“I spoke too soon, Mom. I jinxed myself. He just called me faggot in the hallway. Everyone laughed.”
I contemplate driving to your house and telling you off. I know that will just make it worse for my son.
I feel helpless.
You used to sit at my table. Drink my wine. Eat my cookies. Why can’t you see? Why can’t you all see? You’re breaking his heart.
Look at your son’s Instagram. His Snapchat. Demand to see it. You’ll see who he’s become. Talk to him. Tell him it’s not okay. That his words hurt. They wound. They cut like tiny knives. They leave scars. Try harder. At least, if nothing else, tell him to shut up. Just shut up. Give my kid a break. Tell him to say nothing. Just for a day. Leave my son be.
His smile is so frequently gone now. I’ve tried everything and I’ll keep trying and I won’t give up. But really, it’s your kid who needs the help, not mine.
Why don’t you help him, before it’s too late?