Friday, October 19, 2012

The Mystery of "The Stupid Kid"

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. 

We all know that's not true, so we try really hard to protect our kids from having their feelings hurt for fear of long term damage.  

The other night Morgan and Aias were playing Lego and Aias fumbled a bit on something he was building, and then he said:

"Aias is a stupid kid."

We were shocked.  We can honestly say, without a doubt, that Aias did NOT pick that up around  here.  We rarely (if ever) even use the word stupid.  As kids, I'm pretty sure the word "stupid" was actually considered a swear in our house.  We would also never call each other or Aias stupid. 

This means, of course, that Aias heard it somewhere else.  We panicked a bit, and we asked Aias where he heard it. Aias has limited language, and was sort of just staring at us when we asked. Then we asked him if someone said it to him, and he said yes.  So of course we asked who, but he didn't say.  At one point in our long line of (probably leading) questions, he claimed it was a kid at his school and used a name, but we can't be entirely sure we didn't just lead him to saying it or make him feel pressured to give an answer. 

We feel a little bit stressed about this, to be honest.  We only recently started sending him to preschool, so for 5 hours each week, Aias is completely out of our sight.  We don't know what people say to him and we don't witness any interactions he may have with other people.  We'd hate to think that we are sending him somewhere where he will be called a stupid kid. 

Of course, we can't really jump to any conclusions.  Aias likes preschool a lot, and we can't know for certain where he picked this up until he has more language to be able to communicate with us.  And the reality is, there are a lot of places and circumstances where Aias could have picked this up.  He could have heard another kid say it to another kid at a playgroup, on the playground, in the grocery store, on the street. He could have heard an adult say it to a kid in any of those places, too. He could have heard an adult say it ABOUT a kid.  He could have had it said to him by another kid or another adult (we really hope this isn't the case). It could have been someone at the park, or walking on the street, who mumbled it under their breathe.  He could have heard it on the radio in a shop. He could have seen it on a cartoon.  There are so many places where he could have picked it up.

What scares us most isn't that he repeated it... Aias echoes quite a bit now as his language develops further. What scares us the most is how he uses it in context.  For the last few days, whenever he fumbles with anything, he says "stupid kid."   While he's still too young to really understand what that means,  I hope this isn't something that sticks, for his sake, because he certainly isn't a "stupid kid."

Our best line of defence at this point, has been to consistently remind Aias any time he says "stupid kid" that it isn't nice to say and that it isn't true of him or anyone else.  It's a little disheartening that we are already having to deal with this and he's not even 3-years-old yet.  It's sort of a scary reminder that we can't protect him from the world after all.

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