Years ago, I adopted a saying from the movie When Harry Met Sally.
“Don’t f**k with Mr Zero.”
I am Mr Zero.
Do not f**k with me.
And for your own good, do not f**k with my kids.
We were at the U.S. Capital building on Monday. A tour with YBW’s cousin, her husband, and their three year old daughter, who are visiting us from out of town. Joining us, YBW’s brother and Thing G.
All was well until YBW’s brother displayed a bit of “hangry” behavior. Y’all know what hangry is, right? Means you act like a great big dick with the excuse that you’re hungry. (note: that’s my definition, not Webster’s or OE’s)
Now I know something about hangry…only I never actually called it that. Thing 2 is hypoglycemic and can become grouchy when her blood sugar is low. A quick protein-rich carbohydrate snack to bring her blood sugar up quickly and keep it up, and boom! She’s right as rain.
YBW’s brother needs to eat. Like, yesterday.
So Thing G offers him a piece of gum to tide him over. Well, the gum is declined. Not rudely, but not exactly with politeness either. Thing G being the Thing G he is, is happy to accept the decline of his offer, but wants to explain why he offered the gum. His uncle doesn’t want any part of hearing it. He turns to the kid and just shouts, “NO!”
And that’s when my hackles go up.
Don’t talk to my kid like that, mother f**ker! (Only I don’t say that out loud.)
What I do say is, “Whoa, how about no thank you?”
I take Thing G by the hand, who is still trying to explain…
His uncle says, “I’m just hungry!”
I reply, “I understand that, but don’t take it out on us.”
So I hold Thing G back a moment as his uncle keeps walking.
Thing G says, “I just want to explain why I offered the gum.”
I got close to his face and said, “Let it go, bud. He doesn’t want to hear it. But you can tell me instead.”
By this time YBW has caught up to us, I signal to him that I’ve got it.
Thing G explains that sometimes when he’s hungry, chewing a piece of gum will tied him over until he can eat.
Makes a kind of sense.
I’m freaking livid.
Don’t you talk to my kid like that. I don’t give a damn if you’re hangry or not.
But I calm my heart and take Thing G’s hand and we go down the stairs together.
Meanwhile, YBW’s brother has eaten and has returned his normal likable self. So instead of letting this eat me up inside, I let it go. I protected the kid when he needed back up and he’s safe so I can retreat from momma-lioness mode. And we talk and joke and move on about our day.
A bit later, YBW comes to me and says, “Thanks for defending my kid.”
I look him in his eyes and say, “He’s my kid too. But, you’re welcome.”
Thing G sees this. He has a little smile on his lips as he takes his next bite.
Now, I ride that kid hard, and sometimes we don’t see eye to eye.
But I will cut you before I let you be unkind to that kid, or treat him with disrespect.
I love him.
He is part of my brood. Therefore under my protection. Now, I might kick his ass, but I’ll go down swinging before I let somebody else do it.
Of course, Thing G will eventually need to learn that he won’t always be able to express his own point of view. He’ll have to figure out how to accept that and function through it. He’s grown so much in the last four years. And I don’t just mean he’s now taller than me. I mean he’s beginning to advocate for himself. He’s beginning to show how capable he can be. He’s beginning to figure out his place in the world. This is trick for any seventeen year old, but especially so for one with his diagnosis.
But Thing G isn’t his diagnosis. It’s taken his family quite some time to really understand and accept that. It’s taken him a bit longer to understand and accept that. He’s a work in progress. (Like every single one of the rest of us.)