Monday, 19 May 2014

My Son is Ashamed of Me...

My son is ashamed of me...

That took a lot to type. I've been wondering all morning whether to write this blog entry or not - I even went to the gym to mull it over whilst pounding the treadmill... and as I found out this weekend I really must be 'pounding' the treadmill.

Let me elaborate.

My eldest, KC, who is 9, went to a friend's party at the weekend, the friend's mum called and asked if I wouldn't mind helping out as she had invited an awful lot of children. I didn't mind, I explained that I would have TJ with me and she kindly offered for him to come to the party as well. KC wasn't too pleased when he heard, complaining that TJ goes to loads of parties (which is true) whereas KC goes to very few (also true) so why should TJ get to go to this one.

I explained the situation and that I was going to be helping out anyway and TJ would most likely stay with me for the entire party.

We left...

On the way there KC suddenly said, "When we get here can you tell everybody that you are my uncle and TJ is my cousin?"

I nearly drove the car straight into a tree I was so taken aback.

"What do you mean?" I asked, "What's wrong with people knowing I'm your dad and TJ is your brother?"

"I just don't want anyone to know my business," he replied.

I decided to leave it. "We'll talk about this when we get home." I said and we went to the party.

The party was chaos. The kids (30 of them) were off the wall and most of the parents, who had been drafted in to help, like me, stayed glued to the bar whilst myself, the boy's mother and an aunt ran around doing everything - even the party organisers were dreadful. But the kids had a good time, which I suppose is the main thing. Except that at the end of the party I saw KC behaving appallingly and ensuring that none of his friends would play with TJ. I appreciate sibling rivallry and all of that (I was no angel to my little brother) but KC was off the wall - jumping on things, climbing on stuff that was quite dangerous and being openly mean. I had never seen him behave like this before.

I told him to come inside, I wasn't going to tell him off in front of everyone. He looked sheepish, "There," I said, "Now everyone knows I'm your dad because I have just had to bring you in. You have two choices, you either stay and play nicely with your brother, or we go home now."

He opted to go home. So we said our thank you's and goodbyes and left.

Later that evening, whilst TJ watched TV, KC and I sat down with Papa to have a chat.

"Why didn't you want people to know that Dad is your dad?" Papa asked.

"Because I wanted to spare his feelings," KC said in an obviously rehearsed manner.

"Spare his feelings?" Papa asked. I just sat listening.

"Yes," KC went on, "I didn't want my friends to laugh at him because he is so fat."

At this point the bottom fell out of my world. I was stunned.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm no slim Jim and since we had a family I have definately put on a bit, well, a lot of weight, but to hear that your own child is ashamed of you is dreadful.

He went on, "My friends all laugh at fat people and I didn't want them to laugh at Daddy."

"What about TJ," I asked, "Why did you pretend he was your cousin?"

"Because TJ is small and looks weird," came the shocking reply.

I was absolutely lost for words. We haven't explained TJ's disabilities to either boy yet, I'm thinking it may be time soon, I just need to pick the right time - it could crush TJ's self confidence, or it could empower him - I don't know which way the coin will fall yet.

TJ has a form of dwarfism, coupled with possible Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which effects his appearance - although to me he is gorgeous. Being on the autistic spectrum means he finds social gatherings difficult - but he tries really hard.

But at this point in time I was concerned with where all this was coming from KC. I decided to be honest with him.

"You're not worried about what people think of me, I said, "You are worried about what people will think of you - let's get that point sorted first. If you were worried about me then you would stand up to your friends and tell them you don't care how your Dad or your brother look, but by asking us to lie, then you were only protecting yourself. After all, would it have been ok for these 'friends' to laugh at me and TJ if we were your uncle and cousin."

He shook his head, knowing his argument was flawed.

"There's a boy at school who is fat," he went on, "And some other boys call him names."

"Do you call him names?" I asked.

"No,' came the reply, "But I don't say anything, I'm just glad it's not me."

"Not doing anything is as bad as taking part," I told him, "You have to help him, how would you feel if people laughed at you?"

"That's why I don't eat lunch," he said, "I don't want to get fat."

What??? He's not eating lunch??? He is 9!!!!!!

"I'm on a diet," he said.

We went on to talk about body shapes, different types of people, and the fact that he was an incredibly active little boy who didn't need to watch what he ate just yet. He doesn't have fizzy drinks, occassionally he has crisps and junk food is a treat. I told him all of these things and they seemed to get through to him.

This morning as we were getting ready for school he packed his snack box, "I'll just have two pieces of fruit today," he said.

Now I'm wondering if we got through to him at all.

Either way a call to the school is definately needed and I am back at the gym!


  1. Lol, wasn't sure to laugh or cry at the have it all in hand x

  2. Oh James! My heart goes out to all of you. Some elements of this I recognise, others are well outside my realm of experience. I can appreciate how hard this post was to write. I recently found out that my DD2 thinks she, too, is 'fat'. You know - my ten year old who stands at 1.35m and weighs less than 28kgs?!

    I wish I had words of wisdom, but I don't. All I can do is applaud your love for your boys and your openness with them - no matter how difficult the subject.

    Shame is a terrible invention. I wish we could un-invent it. :(

  3. Thank you to both of you - I did deliberate over whether to put this 'out there' but the point of the blog has always been about honesty - in good times and bad. I just had a chat with a lovely education friend of mine who pointed out that food issues are usually about control - especially in children as its the one thing they have control over in their lives. I shall explore that avenue further... thanks for the support! x

  4. Try to keep an open mind to anything the boys will share with you, that will keep them sharing.
    Seems like you are handling awkward situations quite right, so the only problem you can encounter is your own shock at the straightforwardness of your kin. And that you can solve. Hang on!

    1. Yes, I often have to keep reminding myself that I am the adult. Its funny I always thought the issue of our being gay would be uppermost in his mind when he was focussing on being different... not his, or indeed my weight