Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Advocating for themselves

It's hard to teach someone to advocate. Advocacy isn't just standing up for yourself or someone or a belief...it's an entire feeling and the emotions behind a cause that creates a drive and a passion that enables us go from aggression to assertion sometimes overnight. It's reaching a place within yourself that allows you teach others who want to be taught, that allows you to move past those who do not, that allows you to have enough confidence in yourself and your peers to answer those hard questions that may first spark emotions that you didn't even realize were there.

Right now I'm trying to instill that confidence in my children who are at the age where they're not as trusting as many adults are with their peers who ask questions that seem so derogatory at first. It's hard at this age to know who's asking (friends/foes) and the intent behind those questions. I'm very glad they can come to me with these issues and that my brain allows me to pull up answers to the questions rather than defensive pseudo answers (we'll save those for those determined to be bullies/foes)! Here's the conversation on the way to school:

Brook: "Mama, Gage's processor don't hook around his ear like mine does."
Me: "Well, his ears are very small, and he can't hook his around like you can."
Gage: "Mama, sometimes people say 'Why are your ears so tiny?' and I don't like that, it makes me mad!"
Me: "What do you tell them?"
Gage: "Just shut-up, I'm not gonna play with you." (knowing him, this isn't what he says, it's likely more a shoulder shrug and embarrassement)
Me: "Why don't you just answer them honestly and there'll be no reason for them to keep asking. Just say, 'that's how God made me. He knew I would take good care of them no matter how small they are. They're little and don't work, but I can hear what you say with my implants'."
Gage: "But what if they just keep on saying it. I'll tell on them if they keep on."
Me: "Yes you could tell I guess, and you could also say 'They are small so I don't have to listen to rude people constantly making comments when you know I don't like it!"
Brook: "I don't like this girl in my room who always says 'What's on your ears?' either!"
Gage: "just tell her they're hearing aids and that's it!!"
Me: "Tell her that you use those to hear with 'cause your ears don't work."
Brook: "Gage, you come tell her that I'm deaf." ...........

It's tough sometimes and we don't always give the best answers but we can listen and learn. The kids left my car with what I hope was at least a day's worth of confidence. One of the best blessings we have is that they have each other, no matter how many times they fight over a certain toy, or who gets to sit next to Daddy, they always have each other and a special bond. Parenting is tough sometimes and beautiful always.


Marsel said...

Although it's hard to see our kids experience difficulties, we too have often been thankful that our son and daughter have each other...so I understand completely!

tammy said...

Your last sentence is ringing in my ears. Absolutely true. Kids can be so rude, but kids are curious and sometimes it's just kids being kids. It's how we as parents, teach our kids to handle these situations ... and you can tell, through kids reactions/behavior towards others, just how their parents taught them. Good for you Val. I think you did a beautiful job.