When I was a teenager I remember my first encounter with Maya Angelou.. She is an amazing writer and "I know why the caged bird sings" spoke volumes to my soul, about repression and the inner workings of the human heart. Not just because she was black or a woman but because she was a person who has been pushed and squished and beaten down, she was not allowed to be who she really was, she was not appreciated and never allowed to shine. She was like most of us. Invisible to those who did not look beyond the surface.
Last night my 10yr old son came to me and told me how the new catchphrase at school to really insult someone is spreading like wildfire. The "R" word according to him is being thrown around like confetti bringing joy to those who use it and a big old mess for the ones it hits and those of us left to clean up the aftermath. He was telling me how every person deemed unworthy by others is currently a "Retard" and how he himself has been called this word. This word that children spray out as insult and that unimaginative adults use daily to describe people or behaviours and think that it is funny. The "R" word, a throw back to when the world was unforgiving of differences and intolerant of anything or anyone who stepped outside the confines of socially acceptable norms.
As my son told me this, whilst he lay on my lap and I stroked his hair and listened to him, how this current trend lays heavy in his heart and he wonders if they are only calling him that, tears welled in my eyes and slowly fell down my cheeks. You see my son is a super hero, he is a survivor, he is unique and amazing and so far from normal its not funny. And I am glad. If he was normal then maybe today he wouldn't be here and I would not have this story to tell. My son survived 20+ strokes and epilepsy and brain damage and he walks and talks and attends mainstream school. Sure, his hand and body doesn't work 100% properly from his Cerebral Palsy and on occasion concepts float above his head that "normal" 10yr old's should understand but he is here when they said he wouldn't be and no other child has ever survived what he has been through. They judge him for not being normal and all I see is the sheer strength of will, the backbone, determination, tenacity and the miracle.
I tried to explain to him, let's call him Superhero, how most people will live their lives in mediocrity because of fear of what others think. Doing nothing and becoming noone, incase people judge their actions and choices. Using words like retard to make others feel bad because in fact something is broken inside of them and they feel badly about themselves. They fear being judged but do so themselves daily.
I explained to Superhero how even at the age of 40 I was ridiculed and shamed and bullied recently by mean spirited women who have many faults of their own and such mediocre unhappy lives, that they obviously have to build themselves up by tearing other women down, no sisterhood here. How they justify their own lack of worth by piling up victims with their hatred and bile so they can stand up high on their "victories".. I explained to him how victory to some is all they need to feel good about themselves when really their victories are loss, because they do not live a free life, they have no happiness in their soul, their bitterness will eat them away.
It dawned on me these are the parents of miniature human beings who are learning how to be big human beings and live in a world of diversity and change. Live in a world that should embrace difference and stepping outside the box as bravery and heroism. These children are being shaped and moulded by parents who would throw each other under the bus to get a societal leg up on the popularity ladder.
As we talked and I stroked his hair more silent tears fell at the injustices of human behaviour and people's need to feed on others to fill themselves up.
I am a cups half full person because I truly believe what you give out you will get back. Trust me my life has been to Shitsville more times than I can count and I have and do know struggle, but whilst others bitch and moan and drown in whatever life throws at them I choose not to. I just get on with it, with a smile, and good things come to me all the time even if it's not perfect. This has set me up for petty judgements, jealousies and pure meangirl vitriol, I think because I can still smile even when others wouldn't. The fact is I continue dancing to the beat of my own drum and my life is good.
I explained to Superhero how the joke was really on them because deep down inside they are dark and miserable and have no joy. How true wealth is about what you see and feel and experience, how what you bring to the table can not only feed you but also others, and how when you give out kindness and joy your heart will refill with it so in reality you can never lose at life..
Did a part of me want to tell him, this Superhero, how those kids are arseholes and they probably have miserable lives with even more miserable parents, did I want to drop the C-bomb and slap all of them across the head because I honestly just do not understand the lack of empathy and humanity that is glaringly not present here, of course I did. So much. But we teach our children how to human and so I taught him about respect, of himself and others and how the travesty of a fear filled life can create emotional vampires.
I taught my 10yr old Superhero, who has more worth in his little finger than most people have in their entire lives, how rising above them altogether with a smile will feed his own soul and attract more of the same. I explained to him that people like that are unworthy of his time or energy yet still worthy of compassion without buying into it, and sadly I also explained that just like I went through, sometimes these children stay like this throughout adulthood and the best revenge is to really live, without worrying what anybody else really thinks of you. I taught him bullies are just jealous and only win when they manage to suck the energy out of you that you would otherwise use to give joy to yourself and others. They only want you to be as miserable as they are, so do not let them win.
To anyone different who is comfortable in their own skin, who doesn't need to stand on others to lift themselves up and spreads joy to all, you keep on rocking it, this life thing.. because superheroes come in all shapes, sizes and forms and god knows this world needs you.
Why does the caged bird sing? Because it has a song. And what is the difference between having a song or no song at all whether you are in a cage or not? Freedom, and in that freedom is the most astounding beauty you will even encounter even if you can't see it with the naked eye. That my friends is truly living so trust me when I say that in that freedom anď joy given and recieved you really will have the last laugh.
Peace out lovers..
Mama, madly xo