I Married a Pygmy

My friend Kelly shared with me that I don’t write very much about how different Thorin is from other kids. That is probably accurate. Sometimes I don’t even write about Down syndrome.

This past week I decided to notice what is different when it comes to Thorin. You know, really focus on what stood out to me.

On Monday we encountered Abuela Rosa. She is one of the volunteer grandparents at Thorin’s school.

“There’s my Baby! Baby, come hug Abuela Rosa!”

Me, sounding clearly annoyed, “He’s not a baby.”

“Sure he is. Hug me, Baby!”

Thorin scurried out of reach and went in the school.

Sounding super rejected and disappointed, “My Baby didn’t hug me!”

So, you won’t find me culturally insensitive she only refers to Thorin as a “Baby” and has been talked to by school staff to refrain from calling him that and asking for hugs and kisses.

On Tuesday a parent from Thorin’s school told me she understands why “he pushes other kids because of his communication issues”. This chick never says anything like – “So, I understand Thorin is a real fan of the Hulk.” or “Thorin sure seems like a nice kid.” It’s always about his perceived difference.

I know nothing about this woman’s life. And if I knew anything that might come under the heading of personal information I would not mention it but then again I am from Wisconsin.

On Wednesday This on-on-one aide was out sick. His substitute aide seemed great and they went off happily to class. When I picked him up she asked me, “How old is he?”

“Seriously, Dude, you spent the entire fucking day with him and you didn’t think to ask him?”  I can’t help but wonder if he was a ‘typical’ six-year-old would she have asked him?

On Thursday we pulled up to school and a classmate of Thorin’s and her mother walked over to the car. The mother leaned in and said in a really loud voice, “Hi T.! Are you unbuckling yourself?! Can you unbuckle your seat belt?” And then she clapped her hands together twice.

The fact she made it home without  a concussion speaks again to my Midwestern niceness.

On Friday Thorin was home sick. The thermometer needed a new battery. I had to lug him to Ride-Aide. While I am trying to find the correct battery a sales lady came up to us. She asked me how old he was.

Through gritted teeth I said, “Six.”

“Six! Really?! Why is he so short?!”, she asked.

“My husband is a pygmy.”*

“What?! Really?!” she asked in a weirdly excited way

Me, completely bored out of my skull, “Yeah, really.”

Insert long silence here. “Uh, you…um, where did you two meet?”, she inquired.

“Graduate school”, I said in a very deadpanned sort of way.

Rest assured even though I do not always write about Thorin being different I am always quite aware others see him that way.

*I am not using the term ‘pygmy’ to be derogatory. Instead, I am trying to combat rudeness and challenge stereotypes. 

21 thoughts on “I Married a Pygmy

  1. So what your saying is, what is most different about Thorin is the way other people treat him. This is especially disturbing concerning the people who are charged with his education. I’m lucky to still be in the midwest, where people may think things like that on occasion, but at least have the where with all to smile and keep their mouths shut.

  2. My son is only 9 months old. I already dread the day he goes to school–for this kind of stuff in particular. Ugh. I’m pretty sure I would not bite my tongue though, and I’m from the South where we rarely say things to a person’s face, we politely talk about them behind their backs. ; )

  3. I think the only thing I can say is “I THINK I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU!” My son LJ, who is 10, also has Ds. We live in Australia and despite it being described as “the lucky country” I often wonder how that can be true when we scored all the uninformed people??? I had a Disability Support Worker once ask me “What does your son suffer from?” I told her … “Well, he has Down syndrome, but he suffers from people’s ignorance.” If I may, I would like to file away in a safe place the “I married a Pygmy” response, as it is one I am sure I can use at some point! Thank you for your honest and heart felt post. I also particularly liked the Questionable parenting post xo Sandra xo

  4. I believe that saying I married a pygmy could be derogatory. It would be seen as offensive and even racist to many. In your circles it may not be. Think about why you would say pygmy instead of the word midget or dwarf? Possibly because using those words might be offensive? Or maybe that who most people picture when they hear the word pygmy would be funny and get a shocked reaction? I think that you would be greatly offended if people or kids at school then joked around that your son was a pymgy. Just something to think about. That being said, I know how it can feel to want to set these rude, thoughtless people straight. I have found that being brutally honest in a matter of fact way really works. Just by repeating what they said and calmly stating. -“Wow, that was a very rude (insensitive..stereotypical…unloving) thing to say.” In my case it often stops people and make them think. They don’t often repeat the offense. :)

  5. I think this is my favorite blog post ever. I generally skip moms w/Ds who blog, so I’m really glad to have stumbled on your blog. (It was the HuffPost blog about telling your 7 yr old that pulled me in – great post too). Thanks for making the time to write.

    • I am so happy you connected. And quite the compliment! Thank you, kwp

      ps – I don’t read most of those logs either. Don’t get me started:)

  6. I understand how maddening it is to be talked down to. I am a freshman in high school, but some people talk to me like a baby when explaining something. Sometimes, they are younger than me, to make matters even more infuriating. I look (blame the Asian traits) and sometimes act younger than my age (14), but I take three honors classes and play a musical instrument (flute). I bet some of the patronizers have never taken an honors class or played a musical instrument. I see that Thorin is annoyed with the wrong assumptions about his age. Being autistic, I feel the same way.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment! Sorry for delay in responding. It is frustrating to see how some people are still treated. You are very accomplished and mature for your years!

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