There's something that I never expected about this whole parenting and advocating thing-something that was never in the manual, or that anyone ever shared with me.
It's a dance. A tightrope. A constant waver between, "Do I let them handle it themselves?" and "Do I jump in and help?"
Sometimes it's obvious-and I've learned the hard way sometimes, that by jumping in too early I end up with my foot in my mouth; or too late and the situation is just way too out of control.
Sometimes the situations just sneak up on you.
The other day we were at the post office counter in a store, and Jake was pouring over the stamps. He likes stamps-especially the really cool, collector's stamps.
"Hey these are neat. Wow, eight dollars? For ONE stamp? How much would that be then for all four of them?"
It was a simple question, really. A lot of people ask clerks questions and it's their job to answer them, right? Most of us would just do the math in our head, but Jake doesn't have that ability. We often say it's like a math dyslexia-while I can picture a general number line in my head, and estimate, or add and subtract, Jake can't. He really doesn't see it. He also mixes up the symbols, flips numbers upside down or backwards, and is generally really frustrated by it all.
Don't get me wrong, he has come a long way and can do grade level stuff. But Math in his head on demand is just not going to happen. So he politely asked the clerk how much it cost.
To my shock she looked at him with irritation and snottily replied,
"Well-you should know."
I stood there, kinda dumbfounded. Are you kidding me? If I had asked that question, there is no way she would have responded like that, so why the hell was she talking to Jake like he was an idiot?
He met her gaze evenly, with a look that said, bring it on, lady.
"NO, I don't. Mom?"
"Wow, that's expensive just for some stamps." And with that, he walked away.
That small interaction has bugged me for days. I've played it over and over in my head, wondering if I should have stepped in and said something, or if I did the right thing by letting Jake handle it. Too often, I'm the mom to jump in and rescue my son. I'm trying really hard to stand back a bit let him handle things himself. The sad truth is, Hubs deals with discrimination and insensitivity every day, and Jake will likely have the same issue as an adult. I want to him to learn how to stand up for himself.
It's just SO HARD to watch. They don't see it, but I see the hurt in his eyes. I know that every barb does find a tiny place to stick, and that it's a load that a 13 year old should never have to carry.
So while it appeared to Jake like I let him handle that one, in the end I did what I do best; I fired off a letter to the management of the store, voicing my disgust with their employee. I let them know that in that particular instance, they got off easy.
Should there be a next time, that clerk will have one angry customer on her hands.
Momma Bears only have so much restraint, you know.