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Incident at the county fair - Page 2

post #21 of 102
Ah sending huge s to you. I sure wish kids were born perfect. : I suppose I see this as an instance of "it takes a village," etc etc. We all work so hard to raise sensitive and aware kids but it's just not an instant process.

Just keep modeling and talking. He'll get there one day. And, then, he'll get to teach his own children.
post #22 of 102
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I did apologize to her, but I'm glad I'm not alone in not knowing what the correct term would be. I am not saying that she had no right to be upset and that my ds did no wrong. I was embarassed, and afraid that she would think he learned that from us. I did talk to him and told him that what he said to her hurt her feelings, and he felt really bad. He just didn't know. It's not like I told him that it was OK because he's just a kid. I used it as a learning experience, and hopefully it won't happen again.
post #23 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twocoolboys View Post
Yes, he is a child, but she is a human being too. She does not need to stand at work and be insulted by anyone, children included. She deserves a little empathy too. I think treating her like she deserves respect, instead of like she has no right to her feelings teaches the child far more than teaching him that she had no right to her anger. What a strange message to send a child!
But it's not an either/or situation. She deserves respect, she has every right to her feelings, *and* her reaction to the 5 year old was inappropriate. It seems entirely reasonable to let the child know that the term he used isn't acceptable, and that you expect that now that he's aware of this, it won't happen again, while also acknowledging that he didn't deserve to be threatened with the revocation of his turn on the slide for his inadvertent mistake.
post #24 of 102
I just wanted to offer a bit of a story to help explain why I (and maybe others) thought the OP could have handled it better.

When my DN was 3 1/2 -- it was about 6 months after the birth of my son -- and she turned to me and said, "Aunt Peri, you're really fat!" with a wrinkled-up nose. It was in front of a huge crowd of dh's family (who are all rail thin, fwiw), and I was really humiliated. Of course it wasn't her fault (she was just being 3) but it really hurt my feelings. My SIL just blew it off, like "Oh kids say the weirdest things" but I almost felt her reaction was even MORE hurtful. I would have liked an apology... not from DN of course, but just, sort of a recognition that it was hurtful. Also, the way SIL rushed to brush it off left me feeling like a loser to sit there stammering "Um, sweetheart, I just had a baby and he's nursing and, and um um um... every body is different and..."

My point above wasn't to slam the 5 year-old for goodness sakes... HE didn't know better! But it doesn't make the experience of being gawked at and called a derogatory term by ANYONE any LESS hurtful sometimes, it really doesn't. Maybe she's just sick of literally being the circus freak... with 5 kids an hour saying something rude to her and parents not making eye contact.

I feel like the OP handled the situation incorrectly because I think the woman WAS OWED AN APOLOGY. Yes she didn't "handle it well" but goodness, what if your son had called her the N word? Should she handle THAT well too, kwim? I guess in her world he DID call her the equivalent of the N word... a word used to put her looks and her culture down, etc. So she got snappish.

I think the first words out of my mouth would have been an genuine and effusive "I am so very sorry - even though my son doesn't know this, I fully understand that that was a hurtful thing for him to say and I'm really sorry he hurt your feelings. Would you like to tell him the right term to use and about being shorter in stature, or may I?"
post #25 of 102
I didn't know "midget" was incorrect to say, either. I have always been under the impression that midgets had short limbs and small bodies, but dwarves had short limbs and normal-sized bodies... Guess I will just use "little people" from now on.

My view on it is that he is just five. My soon-to-be stepdaughter told me I had a big butt about a week after I had given birth. Well, compared to her, I probably did. I just explained to her that women store fat on their bodies when they are growing a baby in order to feed the baby when they are born. Part of me wishes I would have told her that she shouldn't comment on people's bodies if they don't have something nice to say, but then I felt like I would be reinforcing that having a big butt is bad (and thus validating that we should all strive to be just like models). Even though she is most likely growing to grow up to be very tall and very thin (her mother and sisters are), I don't want her to worry about it. I would like her to grow up thinking that people's bodies are just that - their bodies. It is so hard to figure out what the right thing to say is.

I understand how the woman was offended, but you do have to look at where it is coming from. I really like the remark from the pp about the beautiful diversity in the world. I will be saving that for future reference.
post #26 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Periwinkle View Post
I just wanted to offer a bit of a story to help explain why I (and maybe others) thought the OP could have handled it better.

When my DN was 3 1/2 -- it was about 6 months after the birth of my son -- and she turned to me and said, "Aunt Peri, you're really fat!" with a wrinkled-up nose. It was in front of a huge crowd of dh's family (who are all rail thin, fwiw), and I was really humiliated. Of course it wasn't her fault (she was just being 3) but it really hurt my feelings.
I remember when I was maybe 5-- I dunno. I called my mom's friend (like an aunt to me) fat, just as your niece did. I said,"__, you're fat!" She told me in a calm but sad way that I'd hurt her feelings. I was so upset! I was not mad at her, I just felt terrible that I'd hurt someone without meaning to!

I know, even as a mom of a 5 yo. that it is very easy to forget that a 5 yo is "just a kid." When a child is very expressive, it's tricky to remember that they do NOT have (generally) the maturity to match. So, I see where the woman as coming from. Like the pp said, she is probably tired of being seen as a freak, of deserving no respect. Who knows what kind of day she had? Did she react appropriately? Nah, but who does every time?
post #27 of 102
thats rough. i have on more than one occasion been mortified at what came out of kids' mouths. I would have apologized and gently explained to my child the correct term. it took a lot of watching "little people, big world" for DD to stop referring to LP as Munchkins!
post #28 of 102
oh for the days when a child said to someone, "you are fat" and the person just answered, "yes I am."
post #29 of 102
Wow - I just learned that midget is now offensive. I knew they're usually called 'little people' but I thought that was because of the TV show.

Is there a book out there or something that shows pictures of different noticable conditions that kids might remark about with the correct terms and explanations? I know that sounds like a not-so-pleasant solution in some ways, but I'd rather sit down with my children in my own home and read a book that covers wheelchairs, little people, oxygen tanks, amputees, etc. with some good pictures that really show the child what it's about. (or maybe multiple books would be much better). That way the person doesn't have to be the first encounter and deal with a little kid's shock/awe, "MOMMY WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT PERSON!!?!" situation??? I'd rather be proactive on this stuff but I don't know how to be w/o some pictures to show my dd (telling her is not going to be enough IMO).

It must get really old for some people who are constantly confronted with these situations/comments.
post #30 of 102
Thread Starter 
I did mention, in a couple of posts, that I did in fact apologize to her, immediately. I am not condoning my ds's behavior. I understand that her feelings were hurt, and she has every right to her feelings. She probably gets a lot of mean comments, and I think that's awful. The only reason that I felt pissed off was that she was going to ban my child from the ride, which I felt was a bit much, considering he didn't mean to insult her. It was a horrible incident, and now I wish I would have gone back and talked to her again later, but I was kind of afraid that she would still be pissed off, and I am terrible at confrontations.
post #31 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by paisleypoet View Post
I did mention, in a couple of posts, that I did in fact apologize to her, immediately. I am not condoning my ds's behavior. I understand that her feelings were hurt, and she has every right to her feelings. She probably gets a lot of mean comments, and I think that's awful. The only reason that I felt pissed off was that she was going to ban my child from the ride, which I felt was a bit much, considering he didn't mean to insult her. It was a horrible incident, and now I wish I would have gone back and talked to her again later, but I was kind of afraid that she would still be pissed off, and I am terrible at confrontations.
I just saw this thread and I need to put in my two cents. I am really surprised at the number of people sympathizing with the ride worker. If she actually said she could keep your son off the ride, she was not only over-reacting, but way out of line regardless of whether the speaker is 5, 7, 15 or an adult. Yes, she has the right to be hurt and angry, but that's it. She is working and it is her job to take the tickets and let the kid on the ride. IMO, threatening to keep someone off a ride because of something they said is just wrong. If I am a carnival worker and I feel I can pick and choose who gets to go on a ride, what's to stop me from refusing entry to someone because they mentioned they support a political candidate I don't like or because they are a different race? Or because they are a Little Person for that matter? When my child says something rude, I explain that it is rude and, if the person heard, apologize or ask my child to apologize. But the first you heard was the carnival worker threatening to not let your child on the ride. As soon as she did that she lost all right to an apology in my opinion. I, myself have no problem with confrontation. I would not have hesitated to give that worker a piece of my mind, and none of what I said would have remotely resembled an apology.
post #32 of 102
I can't get over the fact that she works at a CARNIVAL. And she wants to challenge the assumptions of small children.

A CARNIVAL. Oy.
post #33 of 102
I actually think the whole experience was a great opportunity for your son to learn that some people don't respond well to being labeled, or having comments made about their body. I think you overreacted by getting so upset about it. If someone's feelings are hurt and they tell you, getting defensive or upset about it isn't really the right way to go, or the right behavior to model for your son. Yeah, it sounds like she was unnecessarily harsh, and she'll probably get a good talking to from her boss about that. But from you, a profuse apology to her, and a learning moment for your son was in order.

We have a flat rule that our family doesn't make comments on other people's bodies. I tell the kids that if they have questions or want to talk to me about how a person looks, they can do that when we're at home, and I'll answer all of their questions honestly. I've explaind that people's feelings can get hurt when you comment on their appearance, and that the only comments we can make about or to someone are those of the "What a lovely dress!" and "I like your hair today," variety. My son is still learning, at age 6, and has a hard time not staring at people who look very unusual, but we keep practicing. If I notice him staring, I'll talk to him about it later, and ask whether he has any questions.

I don't think it's too late for you to seize this opportunity to help your son understand the correct approach when he sees someone who looks different in the future. I'd probably wait until bedtime one night, and maybe show him some medical information about dwarfism on the computer. I'd ask him if it scared him when the woman spoke harshly to him, and comfort him in that regard. And I'd explain that she was born with a small body, and probably gets grumpy from people commenting on it all the time, so she wanted to correct him when he used a word that upset her. I'd also explain that it makes people very happy if he smiles and says "hello" to them, without acting as if anything about them is unusual, because people who look very unusual rarely get that sort of response from other people.
post #34 of 102
I think she overreacted. If a 5 year old told me I'm fat, I would tell him that it wasn't a very nice thing to point out, but I would also understand that 5 year olds often lack tact. It's silly to get emotional about it, rather it's a time to point out that tact should be used.
post #35 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twocoolboys View Post
Honestly, I would not have accepted the tickets from the fair manager and I don't think he was correct in offering them to you. I think the employee was well within her rights to feel angry. I know you want to protect your son, but five is plenty old enough to start learning that you can't say whatever pops into your head to people, especially in regards to their appearance. So, he learned a lesson. I would not make excuses for him - that takes away the impact of the lesson, in my opinion. And the fact that he repeated it later when he saw a heavy woman shows that the lesson still needs to be learned.
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post #36 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Demeter9 View Post
I can't get over the fact that she works at a CARNIVAL. And she wants to challenge the assumptions of small children.

A CARNIVAL. Oy.
So Carnival workers don't deserve respect?
post #37 of 102
Add me to the list of adults who didn't know that "midget" was an offensive term. I certainly wouldn't expect a 5yo to know that. She has every right to her feelings, but that doesn't make what he said horrific.

Yes, it's a good opportunity to discuss not commenting on how someone looks because it might hurt their feelings. But I don't think it was anything to be really upset about. Besides, I can only imagine how confusing it is for young children. They don't necessarily hold the same judgements that we do. They are very matter of fact about size, color, etc. In their mind it's not a good or bad thing, it just is.
post #38 of 102
The proper term is Little People or Dwarfs.

My understanding for the reason midgit is bad is because it was used in those old time "freak shows" at carnivals and county fairs and most of the people in those were treated very badly by others because they were different. So it is a association thing.
post #39 of 102
Well, I feel sorry for the woman, but honestly, if she's working at a carneval, then she's working with kids and should have a little more insight. Your son wasn't insulting her, just stating a fact in the langauge available to him. Your child could not possibly know it would upset this woman.
I've had similar experiences with my dd when we lived in Cologne where lots of people with birth defects (from a medication given to pregnant mothers a generation ago) are seen. DD would often comment on people not having one or both arms, etc. Quite embarassing, but I just affirmed what she saw and discussed birth defects and how this person has a challenging life - you know, create sympathy through education not through discipline for saying something that we would interpret as insulting. So, I wouldn't get too upset, just educate along the way as this will happen often.
post #40 of 102
I was thinking about this and I bet she maybe heard the same comment over and over by people being mean previous to this. It dosnt excuse her over reacting but if you think it makes it a bit easier to understand.
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