Sam is my nephew. And a joy in my life. Yesterday, I asked if he wanted to go pick out a birthday gift. He was dressed up as an “army man” and didn’t want to go because he was wrapped up in one of his imaginary worlds. My sister told him he should go and he asked if he had to change clothes. We were in West Texas and the temperature was about 113. It was so hot. He had on a long sleeve camo t-shirt, a long sleeved, polyester “flight suit” with a zipped up camo jacket and UGG boots. I was sweating just looking at him. My sister must have talked him into taking off the jacket but still, he had on two long sleeve items and wool-lined boots. We talked “army” on almost the entire trip. (Luckily, in my single days, I dated an “army guy” and a “airforce guy” and a “marine guy”…not sure what that says about me.) He picked out and I bought him an “Angry Birds Game”. We went home and he played with his game and when he picked it up, he put every piece back in the box, exactly as it was packaged…he unpacked and repacked it several times and when he repacked it, he did it perfectly. He just turned six. This is just a little example of who Sam is. He is a “thinker” and he is an “organizer”. He is a lot of things.
Earlier in the day, when we were on our way home from church, his mom asked him what he learned in Sunday School. He had to think about it. I had the papers he had colored. The lesson was about “loving everyone”. One page had about 15 hearts with writing in them on it and some were colored in and some were “Ex-ed” out. For example, “Help a friend” was colored but “Hit someone” was “ex-ed” out. I was reading what he had colored and what he had “ex-ed” and we were commenting on it. I get to the end of the page and one heart said, “Help a handicapped person”. He had colored it in. I wondered if he knew what “handicapped” meant since it is a big word for a little guy. I asked him, “What does handicapped mean?” He paused for a second and said, “It means ‘fat'”. Well that caused us all to laugh which he didn’t like because he was very serious. I know my sister and her husband did not teach him the word “fat” (my sister is pretty sure that word is up there with some other derogatory terms I won’t type here). I read through the rest of the papers he brought home with him and there was one that had some different scenarios and asked the kids to draw a happy, sad or hurt face next to it depending on how it would make them “feel”. Someone would have had to read them to Sam because he is just learning to read. One scene described a girl with a handicapped arm who went to a new church and everyone was nice to her. Sam drew a happy face next to it. The next scene described an “overweight” boy who was teased; he drew a sad face. I am also certain that “overweight” was probably explained to him as “fat” because he wouldn’t really know the word “overweight”. He just connect some dots.
As a result of this conversation, I am now calling myself “handicapped” instead of “fat”…since they are interchangeable and all.