The Day My Son Was Called Crazy
Crazy was a word assigned to my son first when he began to have seizures. Now, as he grapples with ADHD, his class and playmates call him it again.
Edgar sat on the bench to my left, tucking his knees under his chin and clutching his new puppet, rocking slightly and looking sad. Only minutes before he was the epitome of childhood joy, the paragon of whimsy.
August came to me. At age six and the youngest of four, Edgar’s younger brother, August, is alternately Edgar’s staunchest defender and premier instigator. He announced that Edgar had scratched a boy in the playground, “that boy over there.” I looked and saw the boy’s mother tending to him and held my breath as I waited for a parental confrontation that never came.
I asked Edgar what had happened, why he scratched the boy, trying very hard to maintain sufficient sympathy to his plight but instilling in him another reminder that we do not hit or hurt other human beings.
He said between angry tears that the boy had called him “gross.”
I started gently reminding him that though the boy’s word hurt him, it was not appropriate for him to react in such a way, that he needed to think, take a deep breath, and consider the best way to solve his problem.
But then August returned. And he said the boy did not call Edgar “gross.” He had called him “crazy.”
And with that revelation I had very few words left to share.
It was a word Edgar first heard assigned to him when he was six and in the throes of epilepsy and seizures. It is a word he continues to hear from his peers as he navigates the labyrinth of ADHD. It is a word that has crept into his being and started to take hold. His response to it is pure rejection, and in that moment, with that boy, it was visceral.
All the platitudes in the world about bullying, about criticizing others and how doing so says less about the recipient and more about the person slinging it, do not offer one bit of comfort to a beautiful boy who just wanted to play in the sun on a perfect spring day.
A boy who wanted to play with his puppet and engage his fertile imagination.
A boy who longs to have a place outside the security of his home and family.
A boy who wants only to belong.