Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Parenting by Cyrano...

Are you familiar with the story of Cyrano de Bergerac? My favorite scene is where a man points out that his nose is rather large. Cyrano then goes off with all of the insults the man could have used, but didn't.

We have a similar situation going on around here. The seating arrangements in Shea's class were recently shuffled and resulted in Shea being seated by a boy who calls my son retarded daily. Not surprisingly, this kind of bugs Shea. Rich and I both offered our (ahem) sage counsel.

Rich's solution: [aka the boy solution] Retaliate with like insults. There was a brainstorming session which brought up such words as butt licker.

My solution: [aka the Cyrano approach] Point out that this young man's vocabulary is exceedingly limited. Offer up five or six alternatives to the word "retarded". I'm happy to say Shea listed a host of possible words immediately... but we went to the thesaurus for extra firepower.

We'll see what happens. I'm curious though- what would your advice to Shea be?


City Mouse said...

My approach would be almost identical to yours - Be smart, but play dirty.

I always like a retaliation sandwich. Something like, "Is that the best you can do?" (silence) "Seriously? That's all you got?" is always a good opener. Follow it with your list of big words. And then, I like a nice, pleasant, "Really, I expected more out of you" at the end.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your solution for many reasons. He's not fueling the fire by name calling back which could get him into trouble. (detention, ISS, OSS) Plus he's expanding his vocab and may learn how to get around the bookshelf!

Good for you for directing him down a good path!

sheila said...

Depends on how old the boy is.
Man, I hate that word. Sounds like his mother hasn't raised him very well.

My son and daughter said that word about 3 times in their life, when younger. I then took them to the grocery store where the bag boy had downs. He's very friendly and spoke to my kids when we went through the line, for a little while. It was great.

On the way to the car, I said, "you know that boy you were talking too?"
"when you say the word retard- it is making fun of people like him"

The heads went down and tears came out. They NEVER (and I mean never) said the word again. Not because I told them not too, but because they understood.

Maybe this kid needs to understand. I think I would let the teacher in on what's happening. Maybe others in the class could use a lesson. Good luck!

michael in dc said...

I was thinking about this today and these are the strategies I came up with (these all assume the other kid is a dunce):

1. Pick a complimentary word that has at least four syllables. Pick a bunch of them. When he says "you're a retard," reply with "You're so [blank]." My first contributions: magnanimous; eloquent.

2. "If you keep teasing me, people are going to think you want to be my girlfriend."

3. "Do you always smell like that or are you wearing perfume?" (The idea is to make it non...[threatening/aggressive, I can't think of the right word].)

4. Learn some phrases in another language (I was thinking Latin or German) that say "non-partisan" [word I can't come up with goes there] things but will infuriate someone who cannot know them. Example: "I suppose it's not your fault." Or it could be some random phrase: "The fish are very happy in the lake." Learn one phrase and repeat it every single day until he goes nuts.

5. Learn karate at the Y so that if it should ever turn physical, at least you'll have the upper hand.

Anonymous said...

I think if his grandfather was still alive he would give him the same advice he gave me and my brothers "Deck him" (not that any of us followed the advice). Sure you'll get in trouble but it will end the comments from just about everybody.

Uncle John R.