Friday, June 09, 2006

I remember the stranger who laughed at me...

As the family of the pastor, we often had guests over at our house for dinner. This was something I usually looked forward to. I enjoyed entertaining people, and new guests were a new audience who hadn't seen all my old material!

One afternoon there was a few people over, grown-ups without any children. I was cavorting around the kitchen listening to their conversation, when one of the men looked at me and laughed. He made some comment, I don't remember exactly what, about the enormous size of my tongue, and then proceeded to stick his tongue out like someone with Down's syndrome and roll his eyes at me. Everybody laughed. Except me. It so happens that I do have a very long tongue, and as a child when I was concentrating on something, it would sometimes rest on my lower lip with my mouth partly open. This was an unconcious act that I didn't realize I was doing...until this man pointed it out. I was humiliated. I discovered what it meant to be self-conscious.

I spent the next few minutes alone in front of a mirror, purposefully trying to recreate my usually absent-minded tongue placement. Even I had to admit, it looked ridiculous. It made me look dumb.

Friends, thinking of this memory still fills me with hot shame and anger. I want to find this man, who's name I thankfully don't know, and kick him in the shins, just like an 8 year old would. I can't believe I am still holding onto the hatred I felt for him. I guess it's time for me to let it go, to realize that a man who would mock a child and laugh at her like that must be a small man indeed, with a small opinion of himself, and probably needs my forgiveness more than I need his respect. So, little man, wherever you are...I forgive you for laughing at me.

10 comments:

Shushan said...

That is a big step, but an important one for your own permanent healing.

God bless you!

Delynne said...

I love to read what you write. I felt anger with you as I read it. It's such a strong picture of how adults can influence children (for good or bad). That same situation, but instead, a gentle smile, would've impacted you in a completely different way.

Spoke said...

Shins huh? You're too kind. People are cruel, especially those with little self-worth and shame.
I don't recall humiliation as a kid, perhaps I didn't care. More like I was too dim to take notice.
psalm 139

annacond said...

I agree that adults can damage children with their comments, but it's not much different than when children do it to each other either. I've been the subject of ridicule all my life, about something over which I have absolutely NO control, and reading your entry brought back the feelings I keep trying to shove back down. You'd think they'd diminish when you're 38 years old, but alas -- No.

Psalm 139 sure doesn't help on the very worst days. Those are the days when you think that God could have created you 'normal' and yet he didn't. Why did all my peers get created 'normal' and I was the freak-of-nature (one of the nicer names I was called)?

Even though I don't hate the people that did that to me, I understand what you're saying, my friend. I understand. It hurts.

papa herman said...

it is interesting the power those moments have in our lives...

i remember being at the fair once and "the worlds largest twins" were there. basically one sat on a couch while the other one rode a minibike around in the tent.

(i know, a whole commentary about exploitation could be inserted here....)

anyways-- at the end of their 'performance' they walked the front of the crowd with postcards that had pictures of themselves on it. my dad told me to go get one. when i went forward to get one they made a comment that you had to pay for them... i was embarrassed by this because 1. i probably didnt have any money and 2. i didnt like getting pointed out in a crowd like that.

i am 43 years old and still remember this event from my childhood.

Take 2 said...

Golly.....what an idiot of an adult. What is up with people like that.

I remember in Grade 9 a man making fun of one of my toes cuz it was not straight enough for him. Ha What a joke.

These bodies of ours are just going to turn to dust anyways.

Good story!!!! It is good to get it out and leave it all in the past.

FreeThinker said...

Reminds me of the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum here in The City ... there's an exhibit with a mirror and a sign saying that only 2% of people can curl up the sides of their tongue. Well, everybody looks in the mirror and tries it. At the end of the museum tour, you see the through the OTHER SIDE of the ONE-WAY mirror ... and watch kids and adults work their tongues in what they think is privacy!

Kim said...

I sometimes wonder if adults really understand how much their actions really affect the kids that are with them. I wonder if they just believe the child will forget it in no time at all because they don't believe kids will understand it....after all, how many events do we forget from our childhood-but then, how many scars result of them just not thinking, taking advantage of an innocent just not understanding...? Kids are not stupid, even if they don't understand exactly the meaning of what someone is saying, they understand what's intended to humiliate or make fun of them. They understand the spirit if not the words or actions themselves. It makes me angry-so angry.... Good for you for forgiving, Paula.

mull-berry said...

Now for something totally different ... from today's paper ... re: Wanda Jackson (I think you can access this for the next three days) ...

http://www.tulsaworld.com/MusicStory.asp?ID=060616_Mu_s2_wanda

Thought of you when I saw it!

RC said...

How horrible, thank you for the reminder that the way we "joke" w/ children can be scaring and harmful.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com