My Boys: Like The X-Men Only Not

I asked them to create their own X-Men/superhero character. This is what I got. Monkey-cat man and a pants-less king/robber dude. I’m at a loss. 

After school today, I had to stop to talk to Luke’s teacher about some accommodations we need to get in place for him for his schoolwork while we begin his tutoring for dyslexia. On the way home after my conversation, the boys and I were talking about how much they dislike having people know that they’re struggling. They don’t want to feel different than their classmates and they don’t want their classmates looking at them differently. Luke hadn’t even wanted me to talk to his teacher, but I convinced him that she needed to understand his difficulties so she could help him. Even at that, he was insistent that we find a way to help him in which no one in his class need ever find out about his dyslexia. Since I just last night wrote about the boys and how grateful I am that their struggles are occurring earlier in their lives rather than later, I thought I would take the opportunity to reinforce my thoughts on the subject by talking to them about it.

“You need to step back and look at the bigger picture on this, Luke. You’re having some difficulties on the front end, but these things you’re going through will just make you stronger in the long run.”

“I just don’t want any of my classmates to know I’m different,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m afraid they’ll think I’m weird,” he said.

“They already think you’re weird,” I added.

“I don’t want this to make me unpopular,” Luke continued, unabated in his concern for his reputation as class clown.

Unpopular? Seriously? The kid is 9 years old. Is he already planning on being Homecoming King?

“Seriously, Luke?” Joe asked. “Everyone loves you because you’re so cute and funny. I don’t think they’ll stop liking you because you can’t read. I told my classmates about my ADHD and they don’t even get what it is. I don’t think your classmates will care.”

“I don’t want them to know,” Luke insisted.

“Luke, sweetie, you’re looking at this all wrong,” I tried again. “All these struggles you’re having now are going to help you later in life. You’re going to be able to face anything because you’ve had to be so brave and dedicated through all this. Dyslexia is not a problem. It’s a gift.”

“It’s not a gift,” he whined. “It’s a curse.”

It got quiet while I tried to figure out how to convince Luke that his embarrassment now at not being able to read as well as the other kids is actually a good thing for him. Then, out of nowhere, Joe piped up.

“Luke…it’s like the X-Men. They have powers and abilities that other people don’t have. They want to keep them a secret because they feel like freaks. Some of them think their powers are a curse. But, they’re not. Their powers make them special. They’re different and it’s not bad. They can use their special abilities to do all kinds of things.”

“Exactly,” I replied. “What Joe said.”

Okay. Okay. So, my boys aren’t exactly the X-Men. I mean, they’re not telepathic, they can’t shoot people with a high-powered optic lasers, and they’re not exactly conjuring up storms to smash their enemies. On the flip side, though, they are special in their own right. They may wish now that they were just “normal” like other people. But, I hold out hope that someday they’ll see that the challenges of being different have been a gift and not a curse. Maybe someday they’ll be proud of their own accomplishments and maybe they’ll even think they’re cool, even if they don’t have retractable, razor-sharp claws like Wolverine.



My God Doesn’t Make Junk

There is beauty everywhere.

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ~Audre Lorde

This morning while driving the boys to school, we got into another one of our deep discussions about life. In particular, today we were discussing the Bible, Christianity, and love and tolerance for all types of people. Very ambitious subject matter for 8 a.m., I know, but I cherish these conversations with my boys because it’s in them that I see the amazing young men they are becoming.

Today’s conversation started because I was talking about something I had read where two young, gay men had been asked to leave a public place they had every right to be in. In fact, they were told they would be thrown out if they did not leave willingly. This type of exclusion bothers me a great deal. Every time I start to think that as a society and a country we are moving forward with acceptance, I read something like this and my faith in us is diminished a bit. My boys are being raised in a home where it’s acknowledged that homosexuals are the same as heterosexuals except that they fall in love with someone of the same sex. We’re raising our boys this way because 1) it’s what my husband and I believe, and 2) they have family members in same sex relationships and we’ve never wanted our boys to think that it was unusual. We’ve decided the best way to teach tolerance is to discuss it and demonstrate it.

“I don’t know why people care who someone else loves,” I said. “Gay people deserve our respect too. Just because they’re walking a different path doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. If Jesus could love the sinners, beggars, and lepers, why can’t His followers find love for different types of people too?”

“I don’t know.” Luke said. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said with a bit of pride. Then, after thinking about it for a minute he added, “Why does it bother people?”

“Well,” I replied. “many Christians quote the Bible and say God says it’s not right for men to be with other men. Personally,” I said, “I think it’s a little crazy the way people pick and chose things just the things they want to support from the Bible. I mean, do we go an eye for an eye or do we turn the other cheek? You can read an awful lot into Bible text. If every life is precious, then that means the lives of gay people are precious too. If we’re going to chose things from the Bible to follow in our lives, you’d think we’d pick the positive ones…like love your neighbor as yourself.

I allowed for a little pause while the boys chewed on that tidbit.

“Sometimes people fear what they don’t or can’t understand,” I added.

We sat in silence for a minute or so. Then, Joe spoke.

“You know, in the X-Men show we watch, they say humanity crushes what it does not understand.”

“Exactly, Joe,” I replied.

I was so proud of him just then, proud that he understood what I was saying enough to draw his own parallel to support it, even if that parallel was the X-Men. Sometimes my boys surprise me with their wisdom. To explain people’s differences, I tell them what I truly believe. A Christian should follow the example of Christ first and foremost. We are not God and we can’t understand His wisdom, but we can strive to accept that He does not make junk. Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t make it wrong.