My last post ruffled some feathers, and a big reason was this opening:
“‘So there was this little ‘a-hole kid’ in Annie’s swim class this summer.’ That was how I originally planned to start this post, but when I re-read the sentence I realized it was no way to talk about a little guy.”
Many commented that calling a kid that name wasn’t cool, and they were right. It’s never appropriate – even when written in jest. As a reader pointed out, “A kid can’t be an asshole. A parent might be, but not a kid.” I regret writing that line, and I won’t do it again.
A curious thing happened though as comments popped up. What started as a discussion about what a parent should do when a child is disrupting a class took a turn when a commenter suggested that the boy causing the disruption might have had special needs. Very quickly a number of readers latched onto this idea, and what was initially merely a suggestion turned into a fact. Soon commenters were chastising me for having the poor taste to speak out against a special needs child, and questioned my compassion and empathy. One commenter even wrote that I needed to “re-think my position.” Rethink my position? What position? The whole point of the post was that I had no position – I was asking how a parent should handle such a complex situation.
I’ve read enough blogs to know that a comments section can go off the rails, but the reality is that none of the commenters were at the pool. They only read the five hundred words I wrote about the situation, and interpreted those words through their own experiences and perspectives. Commenters who were the parents of a special needs child likely imagined the boy was like their child, and, reminded of times their child was excluded or treated poorly, left impassioned comments based on that assumption. But it was just that… an assumption.
Many of these commenters were first time visitors to the blog, so they can be forgiven for not knowing anything about me. But I’d hope that readers who have been here before know that I am a warm hearted person who loves kids, and that if there were even the slightest indication that the boy had special needs, I would have had a very different reaction.
As I’ve blogged about in the past, I grew up overweight and with Tourette syndrome, so I’m not some clueless, insensitive oaf who has no idea about the difficulties many children go through. I’ve experienced firsthand what it is like for a child to be excluded (not to mention how hard kids – and their parents – can be). I’m also a credentialed teacher who took many classes studying special needs children, and if Madeline hadn’t passed away, I would be raising a child who is different from the other children because of her prematurity. I’ve been open about these things, so I hoped I’d be given the benefit of doubt.
That’s the trouble with a blog post though. It is only a brief glimpse at something. If I’d written three thousand words explaining how the situation was very different than many assumed there would have been little room for misinterpretation, but who wants to read a three thousand word blog post?
In the end the response was so impassioned because everyone in the online parenting world so fiercely loves their children, and that’s the reason I love this community so much. Still, we should all give a little more thought to what we put on the Internet – post or comment. Take it from me… the guy dumb enough to call a kid an a-hole on the Internet.
Geez. I normally don’t read comments and this is part of the reason why. I read more comments than normal lately on Heather’s posts, but I didn’t realize what happened with your post that you’re writing about now because I hadn’t followed those comments. …. I just erased a whole bunch of stuff because it’s just going to cause more drama. I’ll say this though..I do remember that you wrote yourself that after you read the ‘a-hole’ line, you already decided it wasn’t what you wanted to call a kid. This controversy was unnecessary because you’d already taken it back at the beginning of your post. I think some people didn’t read past the very first part of that post or they didn’t fully understand what you’d said. Because I also remember that you went on to write some very compassionate things about that kid’s possible situation. I do think that if any child is causing chronic problems, not isolated outbursts, they should be removed from the class or situation. And they should be helped. Therapy, whatever. But anyway, it’s a shame about whatever controversy happened on that post because I thought you made it clear you didn’t want to say that about a kid and that you had sympathy for the mom and what she may have been trying to do. Oh well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
This. I was going to point out that you had said you didn’t want to call the kid an A-hole. Instead of rambling on about it & other stuff, I’m just hitching my wagon to Krissa’s post.
I agree with Krissa as well.
I thought you explained your position very well in the orignial post. I too don’t read through the comments often. I have read your blog and Heather’s for a while now, and it never entered my mind that you meant more than exactly what you said. Hitched in behind Lydia.
I too agree w\ Krissa. Part of the Spohrs family charm is your raw honesty and willingness to put yourselves out there.
Beth Mariel says:
Yes. Your post was perfectly fine and enjoyable to read as always!
Hitching on behind Lydia too in agreeing w/Krissa! I remember being amused/confused by all the comments that were irate that you dared to call a kid that–when you’d already taken it back!
I’m not the mother of a special needs child (that I know of… some issues can be so borderline as to not be detectable at first, such as learning disorders), but I’m run across plenty of parents with special needs children… as you said, it’s part and parcel of the job of teaching.
A lot of them do face an uphill battle at every turn of their child’s life, which is why when they read something resembling the beginning of that post, it’s hard for them to process the rest of it. In a sense, that first sentence takes them back to their own raw pain of seeing their child excluded again and again. It isn’t as bad as losing a child (nothing is), but it’s not seen as that far off: I’ve witnessed enough exchanges between parents where, when the parent identified their child as the one who happened to have special needs, the other parent would quickly say things like “I’m so sorry” to them, or the like (I don’t doubt that said other parent would realize that was the wrong thing to say right after it could not be unsaid).
That said, I think a lot of your readers kinda got it. I wasn’t happy about that word either, but the post as a whole certainly made it clear that, first impulse or not, you were struggling with the situation as a whole, not with the inclusion of the child in question. If that part did not come across to some because of the raw feelings that such a vignette engenders, to be honest I kind of see not being able to get past an initial gut feeling as a reader’s problem, not a writer’s problem.
Amy C. says:
I think I commented on another post you said too. I read this and what you said makes a lot of sense. Thank you for giving me a little different viewpoint of things. It is very fair and honest and I appreciate that!
I thought nothing of it. At all. It’s not like you called the kid an a-hole to his face or where he could hear it! I have 2 kids. An 11 yr old boy and a 6 yr old girl. I love them with my whole heart. They are my life. But at times guess what? They can be a-holes!!!
Word! I’m also a teacher and have worked with both older and younger children. You know what?
Sometimes kids are just assholes. That’s it.
Is it a nice word to call a kid? No, of course not. It’s not a nice word for an adult either. But 99% of the time, adult a-holes didn’t magically become that way the moment they turned 18 and progressed out of adolescence.
You’re fine, Mike. Don’t stress about it. There’s always at least one person on the internet who is going to take offense to everything anyone else says – they’re welcome not to read those things, then.
Fellow former teacher here. PTO queen, school volunteer, mama, VBS craft lady, Sunday school teacher, aunt, you name it. I worked daycare through college. I love kids. LOVE them. And I agree with all of you. Kids can be assholes! I can be an asshole! It’s all good….
Let’s not overanalyze something said in jest.
I couldn’t agree more, TonyaM!! EVERYONE can be an asshole…kids included. I saw absolutely NOTHING wrong with the post, Mike. People need to lighten the Hell up and take the word in the context that it was written. Anyone who “knows” you, IRL or via the blog, understands and likely laughed (like I did!) at it. xo
Haha. I can’t believe that there was so much controversy. I have to say, I only read your first line, chuckled and then had to get about my busy day.
I think we can learn here, that choice of words should prob be in relation to not only context but company.
On a side note, I’ve heard much worse come from teachers whole are amazing at what they do and very much love the kids they work with.
I love both my kids dearly–they are my soul. But sometimes, guess what, they can be complete a-holes. Does that make me any less of a mom or someone who hates kids? Absolutely not. People need to get a grip and stop trying to make issues/fights were there aren’t any.
Jaime Maynard says:
YES. Exactly I adore my kid, but there are times I debate loaning her to the neighbour. Let’s be honest here. What’s a blog if not honest observations on life
My thoughts exactly. Sometimes kids are assholes.
What they said!!! Give yourself a break….some people just need to relax
Jackie S. says:
I also thought nothing of it. You never called the kid a name. You thought of it, but you didn’t. I guess I just saw your humor where some did not.
This is a blog- a place to put your thoughts and feelings out there. If you have to censor yourself to satisfy others then that just defeats its purpose. Just shake it off and remember that not everyone will “get” you- but that’s okay. The important people in your life do.
As far as the others, don’t worry about them. I guarentee that at some point they’ve felt the same way, whether they admit it or not. Most people just don’t have the balls to admit to it in writing, lol.
oh please. nothing you said in that post was out of line. Even your RETRACTION of calling the kid an a-hole.
Mike, I’ve been a reader every day for a few years, though I’m an infrequent commenter. I generally read on my way to work very early in the morning, so I totally missed the debate that broke out on your post. And honestly, I agree with Alison above. Let’s be real here. Kids can be a-holes. Luckily it’s not a permanent condition, a-holeness generally rears its ugly head every now and then, but it happens. It’s nice to get all high and mighty and say, “All kids are perfect creations, how DARE you call a kid an a-hole in jest, FOR SHAME.” But please. We all know that’s not true. I think probably the mob mentality got to some people and encouraged them all to jump on the same bandwagon, but anyone who has read more than a few posts here knows you’re a nice guy who genuinely loves children. I love that you and Heather can be yourselves here, can speak your minds. I would hate to think that you feel like you have to censor yourselves, so please don’t. The real-ness of your blog is one of the things I love most about it.
Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of times knows you and your sense of humor and got that you were kidding. If people jumped to conclusions without reading or thought they read something that wasn’t there, that is definitely not your problem. You do not need to apologize for other people’s failure to read what you wrote or their over-developed sense of drama.
One of the things I really appreciate about the way you and Heather write is how candid both of you are. You didn’t actually call the kid an a-hole, but you acknowledged how the misbehavior of other children can negatively impact the experience of your own child and how, as a parent, that creates negative feelings that you’re not comfortable with. This is definitely something that I (and I’m sure other readers) can relate to.
You said it, sister.
I never thought twice about you calling a kid an a-hole, Mike, because he was disrupting the class, and constantly taking the teacher’s attention away from the other kids. We have a severely mentally, and physically handicapped son who is 47 years old. Over those 47 years I’ve had tons of experiences with different situations. I’ve seen, and I also know, parents that no matter what their children’s special needs are, and how demanding they are, will still try to put that child into situations as if they are completely and totally typical kids,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and not ones with speical needs. That can be taken just so far before it becomes unpleasant for everyone involved. In my opinion they are trying to make that child something that they are incapable of being,,,or else!!!!!!!! What is,,is,and it’s not doing the child any favors if you try to put that kind of pressure on them, AND,like it or not; their parents do have to be considerate of other people!!!!!!
Mike, it makes me angry that you would even need to write this post. It seems like people are overly sensitive these days. All children have their moments, lord knows mine do. Do I think kids can be a-holes? Absolutely. Whether people agree with it or not, I guarantee we’ve all thought it at one time or another. Again, people are growing more sensitive and ready to attack, for what reasons I don’t know. We are all entitled to our thoughts and opinions, and all you were trying to do was get advice while being honest about the situation. A good quality in a blogger!! I don’t comment often, but I have followed you and Heather for years. I know you are a good dad and a good person. I’m sorry you even need to defend yourself.
This is why, even though I enjoy writing my blog, I would never want it to be very successful. Because sometimes readers can be a-holes. Seriously people. Chill out.
I never ever questioned your compassion for any child. You clearly love kids and were just wondering what other parents do in that situation.
Keep doing what you’re doing. You put way more thought and care into how you treated that little boy than most people would have.
And sometimes, commenters just want to see how riled up they can get everyone. It’s the “let’s throw a match and see what happens” mentality. It stinks that you had to write this follow up to explain yourself. People can be real jerks at times.
I’ve stopped reading comments on this blog a long time ago. I enjoyed your post and that’s just it, it’s a glimpse. I’m surprised that anyone familiar with your writing, including that writing that was done back on your own blog would think that you were anything other than a warm hearted parent who loves kids. Can’t please everyone I guess, but I’m glad you wrote in response to it all.
All I can say is WOW! I should read the comments on your posts more often. I loved your post and how it provoked thought in that nothing in parenting is black and white and that there are some very sticky issues we have to navigate with no right answers. Keep the posts coming and I will start reading comments, it’s amazing how one simple thing can get BLOWN up, meanwhile I read it and was like “good post nothing too controversial” what do I know.
Dude, don’t sweat it. Kids often act like a-holes. This is your blog and you’re allowed to say what you want. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read what you say.
Well said. I am sorry you had to write it to begin with. I’ve read your writing a long time. There’s many times I finish reading your and heather’s words and think “I wish I knew them in real life, I think we’d be friends”… so anyone who reads here knows your love of children
After I read the post I thought “this is the father of a girl” and just chuckled. Not to stereotype (they exist for a reason, don’t they?) but boys kinda tend to be off the rails more than girls. So that boy’s behavior in swim class could just have been classic boy … nothing more. Funny the reaction choices we make.
Amy C. says:
Ha ha! I have used this argument too! Oh man! When my two boys were acting up in a restaurant (They were around 9 months old and 3 years old, mind you I immediately started packing up my stuff and we went outside) this mom of an 11 or so year old daughter kept looking over at me. It was driving me crazy!!! Finally I said, “Why don’t you take a picture it will last longer. You have a DAUGHTER!” LOL! So bad, I know. But hey, it is the Mama Bear in me I readily admit. I am sure there are daughters out there who are (okay, now you all have ME saying it, dangit!) “a-holes.” However, a lot of the times girls have this weird gene called the “eager to please” gene. Ha ha! I suffered from it for a long time. I had two boys (one with special needs) and that went right out the window. Like I said, Mama Bear took over and man, she don’t play! LOL!
Yes, yes and yes. I have two boys and my bestie has two girls, same ages. OMG the looks she used to give me until… she had a baby boy, who is now a toddler climbing the furniture!! She now totally gets it and asks me all the time if they are all this crazy!! YEP!!! Get used to it!!!
Wow. I tottally think kids can be assholes. It may not be their fault due to the examples they have in their lives, but they can totally be little turds! There’s nothing wrong with having a sense of humor about it. People are so quick to jump to conclusions about kids being “special needs” now, and it can sometimes go overboard. Even if this kid was special needs, that doesn’t mean that his parents need to gloss over manners and social standards. That means that you and your child have to work extra hard. I have a nephew with Tourette’s. It’s not a free pass to act however he wants – if he’s inappropriate, my sister is quick to tell him so. He still needs to be able to adjust to the social norms and follow the same rules as everyone else. .
It’s too bad that reaction happened. Frankly, I laughed out loud at the beginning of that post and thought to myself ‘this is why I feel like I connect with these people’. We ALL have those moments – and there’s nothing wrong with writing a silly little sarcastic comment to add a little humor to a situation.
I certainly hope this does not encourage you to censor yourself in the future. I know comment sections can be overwhelming – but you and Heather are good people and even better parents BECAUSE of your humor, not in spite of it.
And for whatever it’s wroth, I reread your blog post to my partner that evening. We laughed, and then continued to have a very serious conversation about how we would handle a situation like that in our own lives. So, mission completed. Thanks, Mike!
laura m says:
I’m sorry after all you’ve been through this summer, like you really need people assuming. You know what they say about assuming……..Anyways, I love kids to but I’m sorry to say that there are some kids out there that are way more stubborn than even the parents can be. I know what you meant by the post and I agree with you that if people knew you, instead of just reading one post, they wouldn’t have much to say. Life is life people, get over it. It wasn’t directed and as the first commenter in this post said, you already said sorry at the begining of the post. Hugs
This is YOUR blog. This is to express YOUR feelings. Don’t worry about what others think. I’m pretty sure most people knew you were coming off as humorous, not distasteful. This blog is your way to vent and share your life with us, and we are all appreciative for that. Don’t let that handful of people who find offense in everything ruin your blogging experience. Thanks for being you and REAL!
Wow, I didn’t know that happened in the comments. I don’t understand why, because you said you “realized it was no way to talk about a little guy” so I didn’t really think you called him an a-hole after all. Plus, you wrote about how you don’t know his background and you didn’t assume anything. Oh well… something I love about you is that you always respond and explain your viewpoint when something like this happens. I think it takes courage to do that when there are so many negative comments.
Personally, I thought nothing of that comment. You didn’t actually call the kid that because you realized it wasn’t right. My kid can be a jerk at times, so I could totally see why someone would let that thought cross their mind for a split second. Also, could that kid have had special needs? It’s possible, but regular old run-of-the-mill kids can act like inappropriately too. Just ask my daughter who misbehaves out of sheer boredom about 50 times a day.
I love reading what you and Heather have to say. Keep doing your thing.
I didn’t read all the comments…. But I have to mention that the a-hole comment didn’t even faze me. I have 3 kids I adore and most of the time they’re great. Sometimes they’re a-holes.
And, if my 2 yr old was in a a swimming class (high-risk situation) and one child was eating up the lion’s share of the time, then I would be nervous and would be upset at the situation. Whether there are special needs or not, the boy’s presence put the other 2 children at risk. So, yeah, I would be upset. Do the parents get in the pool? Does the pool assign another instructor? Who knows. Either way, risky situation.
This is your blog, Mike and Heather. You have the right to say whatever you want. Love ya.
This happened in my three year old’s class. The child who was disruptive wasn’t acting up, but crying for the entire 8 weeks. It was fairly obvious that he wasn’t quite ready for swimming lessons yet (this is a class for 3 and 4 year olds). It was to the point where the teacher had to spend most of the time with that child, trying to help him swim. My son and the other 10 kids had very little instructional time. There was a younger ‘helper’ but she wasn’t the main instructor and didn’t do much.
I blamed the mother who continued to snap photos of her kid to document his swim adventure and didn’t seem to be aware at how her child was disrupting the class. I understand that kids need coaxing at times, but when a child is clearly beside himself for the entire 30 minutes each week, it’s time to delay swim lessons, or maybe get a private instructor.
I think kids can be assholes. So can parents. So can readers and commenters to blogs. I can be an asshole. It’s actually my favorite characterization of people/animals who are being testy. I’ve called my cats assholes. I like saying the word.
Whatever. People need to relax a bit and stop being so PC about absolutely everything.
I agree with Ali 100%. Lighten up folks.
cindy w says:
Oh, Mike, don’t you know? You’re a guy. Therefore everything you say is automatically wrong. If the context has to be twisted to make you even more wrong, so be it.
(Seriously, I don’t know why your posts get everybody’s panties in a twist. I quite enjoy them. But then, I’ve called my own kid an a-hole on more than one occasion.)
I agree with commenters above, some kids just aren’t all that lovable sometimes and they can be grouped into the a-hole category. This is your blog and you can say what you want. If someone doesn’t like it, they can leave. You noticed a child misbehaving, almost to the point of hurting himself, and you weren’t sure what should be done. You were concerned about him and the other kids in the pool. I know it sucks that other people thought bad about you, but don’ t believe them. Those of us who read your blog all the time know that you aren’t like that. And it really doesn’t matter what we think. All that matters is how you feel about yourself. Don’t worry about them.
Mike, nothing at all to apologize for. Longtime reader and thought nothing at all of your post. I “got” it. I myself have in frustration over a girl who was bullying our daughter called said bully an a$$hole in frustration to my husband. “Ugh, she’s such, such, well, such a little a$$hole!” Later agreeing that she was most likely that because that’s what her parents have let her be, by default have raised. Your frustration was totally understood here. As for the commenters, I haven’t read, but can imagine. I’ve read one a many run away comments. Try to ignore them. If anyone suggests you’re some insensitive child hater, they’re just a bunch of a$$holes.
Clearly as someone who calls her own kid an a-hole from time to time (ahem…Chase’s nickname), I completely understand. I don’t think you were out of line and as someone who knows you I know you didn’t mean any malice with it.
Well, Mike it looks like you found out who your real fans are… and those ‘other’ people need to find another blog to read. Maybe one thats all sunshine and roses… apparently they need a dose of not-so-real-life.
Deb H says:
I know that you and Heather are awesome parents and never second guessed your post in calling the child an a-hole. I guess I am glad to hear it out in the open that it was a mistake to use that name for a child but at the time I could ”hear” your intentions. I could ”hear” that you were only giving a small amount of information about the situation and because I was not there I didn’t pass judgement. As a matter of fact….even if I was there I would not pass judgement. We all view things differently and that is your opinion about the bratty kid. I personally see too many of them in this world and am concerned for the future of my children but that is another story. Keep on blogging because as far as little ol me is concerned you ROCK at it!!!
Sorry Mike – you’re wrong – a kid CAN be an ahole!! It’s just fact. Most aren’t, but some are. Willing to bet that Maddie wasn’t and Annie isn’t, though, based on the fact that their parents are certainly the opposite of aholes
Maybe I’ll start World War 3 with this, but I call my own kid an a-hole from time to time. (Not to her face, of course.) Sometimes, they’re being a-holes! Of COURSE the reason for that is that they are children and are still learning the proper way to behave. Some people need to lighten up and understand that it was said in jest.
One of your comments in this post really struck a chord with me when you mentioned that some people are new to your blog and don’t really know you or your family’s history. People really should be more careful when posting a comment because, had they all read you for a long time like many of us, they would have read your post as it was meant to be, a light, humorous token on a situation that was distressing for you and Heather. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to pay the same fee if my daughter were getting the shaft in that swimming class like Annie did. It is also very true that kids, ANY KID, can be an a-hole at times, just like any other person in the world. Everyone has a little bit of a-hole quality in them – it’s a defense mechanism that people need to defend themselves against the rest of the world. People really need to settle down and not take everything so seriously. There’s enough serious in our world as it is. Great postings, Mike. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
Mike – you must have been attacked by helicopter parents because you were so NOT out of line. Kids can be that and are that but I think you are right – it happens because their PARENTS are that and let it happen especially if they are really young. s they grow, they then can become their own version of that. Please don’t over censor yourself. Just so tired of everyone trying to be PC all of the time and overcensoring all of the time.
Some kids are a-holes. Some kids are HUGE, GIGANTIC, A-HOLE KINGS, in fact. It doesn’t mean they will always be a-holes. It doesn’t even mean they will continue to be an a-hole five minutes from now. It’s normal/natural/okay for little kids to be self-centered and selfish. Everyone knows that (including big, bad Mike Spohr here).
Lighten up, people. Cripes.
Jessica Stringer says:
I agree…kids can totally be a-holes. We ALL can. I didn’t think anything about it. Don’t sweat it!
Jen K. says:
I commented on the prior post, identifying myself as a parent of a SN child, and thought that I gave balanced advice about bringing the issue up with the director of the pool.
You say in this post: “But I’d hope that readers who have been here before know that I am a warm hearted person who loves kids, and that if there were even the slightest indication that the boy had special needs, I would have had a very different reaction.” I am a long time reader of your blog (though this is only the second time that I have commented). The point of my comment before, and now, is that you can’t always tell by looking that a child has special needs. You just cant — that is why autism is known as an “invisible disability” in many circles. To me, the behavior that you were talking about (lack of awareness of danger, inability to stay with the group) is an indication of potential special needs. I know I wasn’t there the whole time, so I don’t know what else was going on. But I do know that my son looks like any other cute, blonde, five year old. If you were in a group class with us, you’d wonder why I have to keep chasing him down when he runs away from the group. And why he won’t imitate the instructor or do what he is told. And why at the pool he would walk into the deep end without thinking twice about it, even when he gets to the point where he can’t touch anymore.
And so now, whenever I see a stranger’s child misbehaving, I give that family the benefit of the doubt and assume there might be something more going on. And act accordingly (thus my suggestion to talk with the director about the safety hazards the kid posed).
We’d all do a whole lot better if we acted with empathy instead of judgment in the parenting world.
Also would do a lot better if people would take the comment for what it was. Seriously, you are far too sensitive.
Jen K. says:
I’m not sure where your response is coming from. In my comment on the original post, I acknowledged that the kid might come off as an a-hole, but then credited Mike for realizing that it was inappropriate to actually call him that. I did not mean to imply that Mike needs to be more empathetic. My comment was directed more broadly about the general lack of empathy when it comes to parenting and behavior. I appreciate those people who can look past their first reaction that my kid is an a-hole and that I am a sucky parent, and realize that there might be something more going on — since lots of times that does not happen.
Ok so he is special needs. So as a parent of a SN child, is it fair for you to sit on the sidelines and watch as your child is disruptive during the whole entire class time and seeing that he is taking up the the teachers entire attention away from the other kids. And that the other kids are not able to get hardly any instruction that their parents are also paying for? Is that what a parent of a SN child does? Sit on the sidelines and watches as this happens? No forewarning the teacher so maybe she can get an extra instructor to help her out with the class so the other kids aren’t just sitting in a pool with no eyes on them and potentionally putting them in an unsafe position? That is what I got out of Mike’s post.
Jen K. says:
It’s not what I do — in my comment yesterday I mentioned how I don’t do group swim lessons. Instead, I pay three times as much for one-on-one lessons with an instructor whose day job is as a public school autism aide, and I know that I am really lucky to be able to afford to do that for him. My hope is someday that he will be able to join a group class, but I know my kid and know he can’t handle it now. But I know that not every other parent of a SN kid thinks like I do, or has the same means.
I can think of a couple of things that could have happened here, assuming there were SN issues — (1) parent is in denial that anything is wrong and thinks that if kiddo is just given some time, he’ll fall into line; (2) parent informed program of potential issues and was told, “no problem, this class would be perfect for him, we’ve dealt with a kid just like him before and can handle it” (yes, this has happened to me and I have had to pull him out of certain programs); or (3) parent knows kid has issues and is just expecting others to take care of him (which is not acceptable at all). My suggestion for all those situations, as well as a situation where the kid is just misbehaving, remains talking to the program director about the specific behaviors that are causing a safety issue, in a calm and rational matter. No kid, SN or not, gets a pass on safety rules in my mind.
Empathy is wonderful, and yes, the world could use more of it. However, parents of special needs children also need to step in and guide/correct/or possibly remove their child when they are being disruptive to the group. Of course, there are some people who refuse to consider (or they just don’t care) that there may be more going on behind the scenes. The Spohrs do NOT strike me as those kind of parents.
But I think the general frustration for many stems from a lack of response from a parent when their child has become unruly, or dangerous. I believe EVERY kid has misbehaved in these settings at one time, or in my case, more than once (or twice). However, not every parent has jumped in (special needs or not) to ensure the immediate behavior is stopped, or in the very least vaguely improved.
I do sympathize with you. I have 2 daughters. One is special needs. And yes…it is exhausting in group situations. But I still make every effort to jump in when needed to ensure my child is not a danger to herself or others. She still needs to understand what is acceptable and that there are consequences for not trying. It’s my job to teach her. All children need that lesson, no one gets a pass on this one. Best of luck to you.
“If you were in a group class with us, you’d wonder why I have to keep chasing him down when he runs away from the group.”
But see, I’d be fine with that. I’d clearly see you as a parent who was working with their child on their behavioral shortcomings. No child is perfect when it comes to that sort of thing, but it’s reassuring to know the parent is acknowledging whatever given lapse.
My position still is: where were the parents while all of this was happening? Surely, even if their child had special needs, they could have at least acknowledged publicly that some of that behavior was UNSAFE. I wasn’t there, granted, but what bothers me is that it sounds like the parents in question were very hands off when they shouldn’t have been. That’s a real problem, special needs or not.
I agree with Annalisa. In the case of Annie’s class, it does not sound like there was a parent there to help when the little boy was monopolizing the class – not fair to the other kids and definitely not safe for the teacher’s attention to be constantly going toward the one child. I feel so badly that you, Mike, felt judged by your commenters yesterday. The fact that you said you WANTED to call the child an a-hole but realized it wasn’t appropriate should have been the end of it!!! Granted, I am sure there are times when parents of special needs kids feel hurt, saddened and misunderstood when people do not act with empathy toward their kids, it is still OK for said parents to be frustrated when their kids are not getting the attention they need in a SWIM class, where inattention on the part of the teacher (because she is busy with one particular kid) can be dangerous!!! Mike, you are an awesome dad and person! Please ignore the overly dramatic commenters!!
Seriously Mike, there was no reason for this disclaimer. Kids CAN be assholes sometimes. Just like adults. When Annie bites you for the first time then she is being an asshole lol. It doesnt mean she is an anus. People take themselve far too seriously. Reminds me of the Indian debacle. Chill the hell out people.
Honestly it is the parent’s that can’t admit that their kid is sometimes an a-hole that end up raising a-hole teenagers and a-hole young adults.
Jackie S. says:
Amy Collen says:
Mike, you are right, people make assumptions. I did also the other day, I readily admit. I think for me when I was reading was when you mentioned the mom needing to bring the kid out for socialization. I then thought, wait a second. Some of the main goals for special needs kiddos are socialization and mainstreaming. So that is where I made the connection and yes I most definitely assumed and yes I most definitely was identifying with my own child. We had just had swim lessons and I had never even thought about the situation from another parent’s perspective. Mike, you are one of the most empathetic and compassionate guys out there. I know. I think your post just made us think about our own kiddos and our own worries about them. I didn’t mean any ill will towards you at all but tried to look at it from a fair perspective. Such as talking to the director or hiring more aides. I think what was good about your post though (and I know this sounds weird) was that a lot of special needs parents spoke up and I could see there were some that were truly truly hurting. That is why I responded to that other commenter. I know it turned into something very different then what you had intended but it happened anyway.
Same. I responded to the other post, and was feeling very sensitive too. The Mama Bear came out because I could see some of my own child in the one you posted about. I think every parent can admit that their kid can act like an a-hole at times (no matter how wonderful they are deep down), but reading that someone else thinks so is a different story. I think it will make most of us react out of hurt, and want to defend that/ our own child, which I think is exactly what happened.
Everyone knows that you are an amazing father, husband and person, Mike. Even those of us that commented before!! Please don’t take it personally!!
What? A kid can’t be an asshole???? Kids can be tremendous assholes!!!! I’ve unfortunately ran into at least 2 in my lifetime that qualify as bona fide assholes in general! I would later find out that in both cases, mom was also a tremendous asshole. And then of course, there’s the random acts of assholes that we all commit now and then, that even “nice” people are guilty of. Please.
I read your whole blog post and wasn’t at all offended. I’m a parent too. I find it annoying that people want to peg any kid that misbehaves as maybe having “special needs”. That might be true, and I can agree with the idea of giving parents with misbehaving kids the benefit of the doubt in say the grocery store. Or out at the park. Somewhere in public where you might find that kid’s actions annoying but really it’s none of your business.
But in a swim class? No. If my kid had that many special needs, I doubt I’d enroll him in a group swim class knowing that my kid needs and deserves more one-on-one attention and instruction. Sure, parents of special needs kids want them to experience a normal childhood. But we are talking about a swim class here. What kind of irresponsible parent would enroll her special needs child in a group setting like that, knowing full well that her child needs more help?
No. This “excuse” does not apply to this situation. And if it DID, which I cannot even imagine, then that parent needs to know what is going on here.
In your shoes, I may not have complained in a mean way. But I would have expressed concern over the situation. It’s a swim class Mike. Your child deserves the teacher’s full attention. I refrained from commenting on your original post because you ended it with the decision you and Heather had already made.
You are not being judgmental by putting your child’s safety first Mike. That could could just be an active child fed too much sugar and junk, who doesn’t get enough sleep and whose parents haven’t been disciplining him properly. And there you go. Whether he was special needs or just a spoiled brat, it doesn’t matter. His behavior was inappropriate for that class.
Kids can be a-holes and often, even my own. I didn’t comment on your post, but I read it and I totally got where you were coming from.
Parents can be the harshest of critics against other parents. If you polled 100 kids right now and asked them if they were sometimes a-holes, I bet 95 of them would say yes.
No harm, no foul. It’s not like you pulled his hair and bit his ear for goodness sake!
Honestly, I don’t think you need to apologize or feel like you have to defend yourself in a whole new post. You didn’t say anything wrong…the “a-hole” comment made me laugh and you corrected it in the next sentence. People take things way too seriously. It’s YOUR blog and if they don’t like what you have to say, they don’t have to read it. You are supposed to be able to write whatever you feel without having to worry about how many readers are going to take issue with it. Your faithful readers know that you and Heather are kind and sympathetic people. Some kids kind of are a-holes…it’s not their fault but that doesn’t change the fact that they behave poorly. It looks like some of your readers need to lighten up a bit.
Kids can be assholes. And here is the science to prove it:
People who can’t acknowledge this fact are generally the ones with the kids who are assholes.
I have to admit, that made me chuckle.
Have you read Honest Toddler? Hilarious and completely true.
I hadn’t, but I totally will from now on (though compared to some stuff my kid has been doing the past two days, the honest toddler couldn’t possibly be that bad :P).
Kids can’t be a-holes? Oh, please. People are way too sensitive. I have a cousin who is about four, and he’s a total a-hole. Dogs are scared of him. Other kids are scared of him. He gets kicked out of playgroups. And no, his parents aren’t a-holes at all. No one knows what went wrong with this kid, but he’s definitely an a-hole and they exist.
Don’t let ruffled feathers get to you, Mike! Not all babies are precious little miracles. Some of them are truly nightmares.
P.S. I don’t have any kids, but I do have two dogs, and yeah, sometimes they are a-holes, too.
And seconding the commenter who said the people who deny the existence of a-hole children are usually the parents of them!
Word to big bird ;o)
Word. Your post was totally hijacked by people turning it into THEIR story. I was greatly offended at the insensitivity of THEIR comments to you and what you have been through. Please know that you have my support! I love my kids with all of my existence, but lo, sometimes they are assholes.
Crap, that’s exactly what I did, I made it about me, and imagined if it was MY kid being written about. My bad.
Mike, we all love you.
I liked your post, Mike. To be honest I laughed when I read your first sentence because having a little one will inevitably lead you to come across other little ones of all kinds, including little ones who just need that extra attention.
Your post really made me think too, Mike. I realised while children can be unruly, we have finally come to a period in history which we can now openly discuss real issues we are having with the little ones (especially those little ones who are not our own), instead of keeping quiet for fear of offending others, which is exactly what my parent’s generation did.
Your post also made me question As parents, what could or should we do when we notice other’s children distrupt our own child’s learning or even disrupt the class?
I love all of your posts Mike. Keep ’em coming!
Amy Collen says:
Okay now this is cracking me up. The other day it was all the thoughts of kiddos with special needs and now today every kid is an a-hole. Whatever :). Just shaking my head at all the silliness.
I think it’s more of a “every kid has the potential to be an a-hole sometimes”. Some of them come to it through developmental issues that are not their fault, others by role models in their life, and others still are just a combination of very determined and egocentric (with luck, they’ll grow out of the latter, eventually).
I have a super stubborn kid, and sometimes my husband sees my face after I’ve corrected her misbehavior, and grins and says: “You totally want to use the f-word right now, don’t you?” (and yeah, I totally would if she wasn’t a toddler, which means that she can totally figure out mom said a no-no word, and seize on that word in an instant).
Will my kid be an a-hole sometimes? It’s pretty much bound to happen. TBH, I think it already has, several times. My kid in a nutshell right now: enthusiastically loud, tantrum prone, poor self-regulation, i.e., a toddler. My job as a parent, however, is to apologize for her misbehavior when incidents with other kids/adults happen (yes, even though she’s a toddler, and being super stubborn and independent is her core personality, and she’s getting harder and harder to keep up with), and talk to her about why that behavior is not kosher until it sticks. Even if it means repeating “Don’t do that, it’s not nice to others” until I’m blue in the face (and I desperately want to use the f-word to boot :P).
Amy C. says:
LOL! Agreed, Annalisa! I like your argument. I admit, with me it is a few swear words and a strong drink.
Mike, you are awesome. I come to this blog to read what you and Heather write, and you two never cease to amaze me. Keep up the awesome writing! Much love from TX
As one of the readers who had an “impassioned response” to your previous entry I just want to say a few things.
1) I am a long time blog reader, and I think you and Heather are awesome, kind wonderful, thoughtful people. I lost my baby daughter, and your blog has helped me so much with my grief. I know you guys love kids, and I did re-read your post and in fact, other than the first comment, it was a pretty thoughtful post, and you did raise an interesting question and a good topic for discussion about how to react as the parent of the “typical” child in these circumstances. You DID give the little guy and his parents the benefit of the doubt. I realize that now.
2) Not only am I the parent of a child who has died, but I am also the parent of a special-needs child. (I also have a third child who is a “typical” non-special needs child.) My special needs 5 year old has sensory processing disorder and behavioral stuff that stems from that. I know first hand that nothing, nothing, nothing is as painful as the grief as loosing a child . But there is also a great amount of grief involved in having a child with special needs. I did cry after reading your post, and get a little angry … but its because of the grief, not because of anything you wrote. As you know, grief has this tendency to shut down the rational mind. Imagine you overheard a stranger saying something about a parent who lost a child like “I don’t know why they don’t just get over it.” Imagine the painful reaction you would have. Anything they said afterwards about it being “just a joke” would be lost on you, because you would be too much caught in that grief reaction. That’s what its like for me to hear people refer to a child as an “a-hole” or “bad” or to imply that “the parents aren’t doing their job to discipline them.” Even if its just a joke, even if the person takes it back — there is still that initial hurt, and its painful. Really painful.
3) This one is mostly for commenters rather than Mike: Comments like “People need to lighten up” or “I’m tired of people try to pass behavior issues off as special needs” just show what a total LACK of understanding and support there is out there for parents/children who are special needs. Yeah, I think everyone can understand that the child in the wheelchair and their parents have a greater challenge than parents of the non-disabled kid. But somehow this concept is lost on people when the disability is primarily behavioral. People just don’t get that the kid has a DISABILITY, as in a part of their brain doesn’t work the way most people’s do. They think that the kid should try harder, or that the parents aren’t doing their job to discipline the kids. Believe me, I even get this attitude from my own family who KNOW that we’re trying the best we can. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that you NEVER KNOW what’s going on with someone. It might look like one thing, but all you see is a tiny slice of this person’s life. I wish we could all just make a little more effort to not only give each other the benefit of the doubt, but go even beyond that … to really care and reach out to each other. Not just sit there and pass judgment, but to get to know each other. And to make an extra-special effort to do that when you encounter kids (and adults) who are different or who are suffering, or who are lonely. And to teach your children to do the same. When you are in the swim class with the 3 year old boy who can’t follow directions, instead of immediately jumping to “How am I going to get my child away from this other child, who is clearly disruptive and a bad influence” try instead to think about it as a teaching opportunity for your child. To teach your children that not all children are the same, and that some kids need a little extra attention from teachers, and time to learn how to do things like follow directions, and that’s ok. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read this wonderful blog post that’s been circulating by Momestary. She wrote a letter to her son about this exact topic.
(And just for the record, I HAVE pulled my kid from many, many parties/playdates/classes for safety reasons. I’m not advocating irresponsible parenting. I’m just advocating understanding rather than judgment by parents to other parents/children).
The post was not about safety issues. They way I took it is that if the kid IS special needs, then he needs to be in a swim class that doesnt require monopolizing all of the instructors time. Which is not fair to the other kids who also need to learn to swim. And Mike doesnt know if the kid is special needs, the kid might have really been being an asshole!
And if it is the case that the child is special needs and the parent knows that he needs more attention than the other kids than the parent is being an asshole.
#2. Yes, this.
It was so in jest. And I felt like you started it off that way trying to lighten the mood of the Spohrs blog by talking about something other than the loss that is certainly engulfing your family. I’m sorry others could not see that. Mike, your posts are funny and warm hearted and you have been open with your big warm heart. I appreciate that you took the time to mend anyone you may have hurt, but you really have no explaining to do. You left yourself raw and vulnerable at the end of that post. Like, how the heck to do I this? You were not claiming to be anything but OPEN. Thanks for your sharing your heart time and again. Hopefully comments from people who feel like I do, make the naysayer ones hurt a little less. Holding you all close in my thoughts!
Call me devils advocate here, but how could anyone know if that child at the pool had any type of “invisible illness” or was a kid with “special needs”
I find it absolutley amazing that people would jump to that conclusion in the first place.
Being an asshole isn’t discriminatory. ANYONE has the ability to be an asshole, even a kid.
That kid sat behind you in the airplane kickin your chair repeatedly even after you’ve said to stop or his/her parent has told then off, is an asshole.
Just because a kid misbehaves or doesn’t listen or is generally a “problem child” doesn’t mean they have a “special needs” condition.
Yes, some kids are disruptive and misbehaving due to having a medical issue. But sometimes it’s just because the kid is naughty.
Kids go through phases of talking back and testing boundaries, it’s what kids do.
I know I was a nightmare kid at times.
My 2 brothers? They Definitley were! One occasion they snuck into the bathroom (ages 6 and 2) and took 2 cartons of baby powder out and emptied all over the bedroom floor. When my mom came into to get them bathed and dressed she was gobsmacked, their response? “look mama! It snowed!”
They didn’t do it because they had special needs, they did it because they thought it was fun and were testing their boundaries.
When my little brother constantly bit me, he was an asshole. He knew he shouldn’t bite people, but he did it anyway. At the age of (4) and despite being told numerous times not to bite, he still did it and still pushe his limits. That’s an assholey feature.
He also hated wearing clothes, the number of times when out for family days, BBQs, weddings (!!) he’d be running around playing with the other kids and next thing you know there’s a naked 5 year old running through the room.
Reading all these comments in response to yesterdays comments I got this for the yesterday crowd. Haters gonna hate.
People can be assholes. Kids are people. Do the math.
I saw the comments on that blog entry go awry, but the a-hole part of it was really inflammatory. My kids are older now (just sent my oldest off to college, sniff!) so I have a different perspective. Personally I think kids don’t actually need swimming lessons to learn how to swim, just experience with and supervision around water to be safe. So I didn’t think Annie was losing a lot of “instruction” necessarily by another child needing more attention and therefore stayed out of the whole thing.
However, you did raise a really interesting point. As all of our educational system becomes more and more inclusive, there is necessarily a tradeoff for students. And I think that tradeoff works in both directions (for kids with and without special needs/situations). It’s a situation you will most likely encounter again and again, so it’s good to think about and give yourself a chance to weigh both the disadvantages and the advantages, which your post seemed to be a way of beginning to do.
But I love your last line on this post. You’re a great guy to be able to laugh at yourself, and that will make your parenting all the more fun for both you and Annie.
Amy C. says:
Um, correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think Mike was introducing a discussion about inclusion in the classroom. That is a whole other topic all together which in my mind has more to do with lack of money and increase in class size rather than having special needs kiddos in the classroom. I may be opening another can of worms here so I will try and close it now since it is going even further off the rails.
Amy C. says:
Ack. Jennifer I apologize. I centered right in the second paragraph of your argument and thoughtlessly replied to that. I took your meaning completely out of context. Totally get what you are saying and I apologize again You were looking at it from a fair perspective which I should do a little bit more :).
Who says kids can’t be a$$holes? Kids are a$$holes all the time. There is no minimum age requirement that one must attain in order to be properly called an a$$hole. You know who else can be an a$$hole? Adults, blog readers, whatever.
Your post was fine. Everyone who wanted to discuss “what could be wrong with this kid” because he was being an a$$hole in public need to calm down.
True story. My fetus is totally an asshole sometimes. I’m only 23 weeks pregnant. There really is no age requirement.
Uh oh. You’re in for a little troublemaker, alright.
My previous OB called my kid a little f*^&er once or twice, when she would hide from the doppler during routine exams and scare the crap out of her (I didn’t blame her, that would scare me too). She did it so many times we later nicknamed her ninja baby. Fast forward 2 years, and she sneaks up on me very silently sometimes, so that I always have to check for small children before I turn around, or risk knocking her down (which doesn’t deter her, BTW). Just today I was uttering “How? How can you sneak up on me that quietly, when you’re not quiet the other 98% of the time?”. I joke that she’s part cat.
i have often thought that same thought… man this kid is a real jerk. then i pull back and look at the whole situation. seemingly that’s what you did… just in written word (as well as thought). i don’t fault you for that. keep writing and honesty is better than fake ;~) there will always be commenters with preconceived notions!
I am the mom of a VERY special needs kiddo ( a brain tumor kid ) and I thought the a-hole comment was funny. I think kids CAN be a-holes sorta…usually because of a-hole parents, granted, but I didn’t even think of the special needs aspect! I suppose that is very true, sadly, that a kid with special considerations could certainly act like an a-hole if you didn’t know what was up with him!
Good point, internets, and thanks for the update, Mike! I guess even those of us with special kids can overlook or judge others!
Amy C. says:
Very true, Kelly, in some very very rare cases we can overlook and judge others too, but most of the time we are pretty damn awesome, are superheroes, and champions of mankind (and we are damn good looking too!). Just sayin’. LOL!
It’s as though you know me. I AM damn good looking. It’s true. LOL
Amy C. says:
That is quite fortunate for you, ‘cuz so am I! We are awesomeness!!! LOL!
Who of us here has ever been an a-hole, even one time?
:raises hand. I’ve had some a-hole moments. Even as a kid. My last true a-hole moment was over a month ago because I misunderstood something. When I realized my mistake, I apologized to the affected person.
I’m not going to look at the comments on the other post, I can just visualize the flood of “Mike’s picking on a special needs kid” assumptions for myself.
Kelly Daniel says:
I’m at work, so I can’t read all the comments above in order to add my two cents, but I wanted to tell you a story about the one time someone called my son an a-hole (with me present) when it was perfectly acceptable.
I’m also the parent of a preemie. My twins were born at 28 weeks, just like Maddie. My daughter was on the fast track out of the NICU and doing great while my son continued to have A/Bs that were unexplained and could not be tied to ANY of the usual (or unusual) causes. There was a week where they transitioned him from CPAP to nasal canula and he did superbly for 3 days. On day 4, he had 10 A/Bs in one shift. When the neonatalogist saw that the next morning, she said, “Why is he being such an a-hole?” After being there 2 months already (with one more still ahead of me), and coming to the realization that this tiny baby was going to do things his own way, no matter what the research shows, hearing her call him that made me laugh harder than I had laughed since their birth.
If a kid is being an a-hole, so be it. Also…you’re not the kind of guy who would throw that around, and even in the original post you said you knew that “was no way to talk about a little guy.” We all love you, Mike. Let the commenters make their assumptions. I’m glad you posted clarification for those people who haven’t read your story and don’t know who you are.
I didn’t read through any of the comments. I don’t even want to because seriously, I’m so tired of people losing their shit over dumb stuff. You and Heather are, obviously, AMAZING, loving, parents, people, citizens, etc. Obviously you didn’t call the kid an asshole to his face, or to his parents, you were being funny in a blog post. No one is being forced to read your blog. People need to GET OVER IT.
I did respond to “the asshole post” and I did mention, “maybe the kid could have some issues” only because one of my 4 kids happens to have autism and could possibly mistaken for just being an asshole (and sometimes it can’t be blamed on his autism, he’s just being an asshole… )
Thanks for opening yourself up online, and I’m sorry about all the douche-bags out there.
I never “cuss” but it feels like fun right now.
Kids ABSOLUTELY can be assholes. The commenter who claimed that… probably has kids who are assholes.
Anna, you are awesome.
I don’t understand how anyone could find your original post offensive, even if it were the one and only post of yours they had ever read. And people who “know” you through the blog and found it offensive, well I have no words. It blows my mind that people make a storm in a teacup over n.o.t.h.i.n.g. when there are real tragedies unfolding that they could be focusing their anger/attention on ….hello Syria, hello perspective…
Wanted to share a story: Last week I was lucky enough to visit my daughter’s new 2nd grade class. I spent most of the school day with them and was ready to pull my hair out and knock a few heads together (said in jest, but you know the feeling!) by the end of the day. There were about four boys in the class who just were more trouble than the rest of the kids but one, in particular, who I thought need some major, immediate discipline — would not sit in his seat, would not pull up to his desk, wandered around the room every chance he got, seemed to do everything in his power to be disruptive and later, at my daughter’s apartment, I was saying what a horrible student he was, what kind of family life does he have, do his parents not believe in discipline, etc etc and I was so impressed with my daughter when she said “Mommy, I think there is something wrong with him – he is not intentionally being bad” – she is going to have him evaluated, talk to his parents, etc. I was so proud of her that she did not “go there” like I did, ranting about him being so awful. I am glad that she went to a great college that taught her some great things!!! Sorry for the brag but just wanted to put it out there that often times, it is so easy to judge these kids when that is so patently unfair when there may very well be physical, emotional, developmental reasons for their behavior. I know I am “off the rails ” a bit but thought it was a good case in point. I love the father you are, Mike, and the human being you are and am extra incensed by the commenters yesterday who made you feel bad, given that you and your family are going through a terrible time right now with Jackie’s loss. Keep up the always insightful, always humorous, always entertaining posts.
There was nothing offensive about your original post. Parents of all children (special needs included), need to step in when their child is disruptive or possibly dangerous to the others.
Hope Annie starts new lessons soon. It’s so much fun once they grasp the concept.
Mom of 4 says:
Cut yourself some slack. You were being honest. And you know what? Maybe the kid DID have special needs. If so, he apparently needed more attention from a parent than what was being given. However, the parent of a special needs kid usually knows that they have special needs and makes arrangements for that. So I suspect that the kid was just a BRAT with a parent who was more than happy not to have to deal with him for a half hour.
You can’t screw around at the pool. His behavior was not only dangerous to himself but also put your daughter and other classmate in harm’s way because the teacher couldn’t focus on them. If it were me, my daughter would not be in the class with him any more. Either he goes or she does. I’m sure the swim school could accommodate you in another class.
nothing offensive about that post….
Autumn Canter says:
Kids can be a-holes. Certainty didn’t offend me!
People are always looking to be the victim or to be offended. I for one didn’t have any problem with you calling the kid an asshole, because like it or not, some kids ARE assholes! People seriously need to lighten up.
A kid certainly CAN be an asshole. Many times a person’s personality comes out when they are quite young, and not all personalities are nice. Not to say adults should treat asshole kids poorly (for a million reasons), and not to say that this particular kid was an asshole, but man, there are certainly some 100% genuine asshole kids out there, that’s for damn sure.
I didn’t read your other post, but did read some of the comments in response to this post. Frankly, I try to go along with the rule, “if you don’t have anything nice to say …” … because we’re all fighting a hard battle.
My kid’s a total a-hole sometimes, but I guess it’s only okay when you refer to your own kid that way.
Oh Mike! You kill me! “..the guy dumb enough to call a kid an a-hole on the Internet…” But that’s the whole point: you DIDN”T! You said you wanted to, but thought better of it!
Frankly, I didn’t know that (or remember knowing that) you grew up w/Tourette syndrome. But now your many musings re: bullying make more sense! I have a deeper understanding of you and like you even more!
This time I skipped over all the comments (except the very 1st one)…as I recall, the only thing that bothered me out of your story was that the kid’s parents weren’t freaking out a little bit more when he was floating for 30 seconds at a time underwater: that would freak me out as a parent! And then you described the teacher having to rescue him. So, please, tell me the little guy’s parents were concerned over his health at least! It’s been bothering me!
As for your whole original question: now that Annie’s swim lessons are over, I guess I’d just let it go. But in the future, I’d talk to the teacher after class & then, perhaps, his or her supervisor. I know a lot of people recommended going straight to the supervisor or whoever organized the swim lessons, but as former teachers, you & I both know that would drive us crazy!
As a teacher, I wanted parents to approach me about issues so that I could work with them to best resolve the matter. I’ll wager that’s what you preferred too!
On other subjects altogether: continuing to keep you & Heather in my thoughts & prayers–to say this summer has been a difficult one is extreme hyperbole!
to be honest, Mike, I didn’t even read that blog. No hard feelings here! the people that care about you guys won’t twist your words and then get upset for no reason.
I think some people just go around LOOKING for an argument. Maybe you should’ve chose better words, but who cares? a blog’s purpose is to entertain and provoke thought, and you definitely did that. hats off.
Last week we did our 2nd interstate move in 14 months, my 16 month old (yeah do the math) broke his wrist and I had a miscarriage. Through that, my 4 year old has been an asshole…not getting much attention and demanding it. I also notice with him, he feeds off our energy and more asshole behavior was brought out.
I feel that all the people that criticize you about what you do or say want to feel superior or one up you. Don’t let them. You know you best.
I’ve met kids that are just very badly behaved kids, and I’ve met kids with a mean streak. I don’t give them a free pass, and I don’t see why anyone else should, either. For what it’s worth, I didn’t take offense to your comment. Just like some adults are really not enjoyable, so goes the same for kids.
Stephanie Moore says:
I didn’t read the comments but “off the rail” sounds like it covers it. As a fellow teacher and parent of a child who is “different” I must say I chuckled at your opener. We have all had experience with a child who, shall I say politely, is a tad high to maintain. You can’t go into public without having an experience with such a child. I love children too but know that they CAN be rude, disorderly, and disrespectful. I would have spoken to the teacher. If that child can’t listen and abide by the most basic rules and is taking time away from other students he isn’t ready for a swim class. As hard as it is to tell a parent that information it is only fair to the rest of the class. Swim class is not where a child should learn to sit and listen, the danger of children with water and a distracted teacher speaks for itself. Those skills should be in place for such a situation. Maybe a year or so of pre-school or a Mother’s Day out would benefit him more and give him those basic skills.
I love that as I am reading this, my own son is being an asshole.
I am totally enjoying the responses from a lot of your readers. Yes, kids can be a-holes. I think some parents, like myself, just wanted to throw in on the last post that there may be something more going on. So often we have no voice, it was nice to give others some perspective. That being said, there were definitely some people that were out of line.
I have been reading your blog for several years. It is a part of my morning routine. I usually don’t have much time to respond (I tried to write a response twice yesterday and both times I got pulled away). The way you share your life- your triumphs and your struggles- is really special. The honesty in which you and Heather write is what I love. The road of parenting is hard. Everyone has different ideas/perspectives and we’re all just trying to figure it out and get our kids though the best that we can.
Keep on writing. Keep being yourself. You can’t please everyone.
You GO, Mike! Right on!
It’s your blog, and if you wanted to call a kid a kid out for being bratty, then so be it. For crying out loud, people need to monitor their children’s behavior better. The situation could have been a danger to every child under the care of that instructor. Special needs or not (and no one ever established that this was the case) you should have been getting the time and attention for your child that you were paying for. I am on Team Mike on this one. As a parent, and an educator (and yes, I have educated special needs kids, too!)
I wouldn’t sweat it. You didn’t actually CALL the kid that, you just thought it…and wrote it…but you didn’t CALL the kid that!
I am sensitive to special needs kids, but I don’t think you should feel any guilt over this one.
Rachel R. says:
Mike your posts always resonate with me. Primarily because I can tell you are a nice guy. A thoughtful person and someone who tries to see things from all angles. (Not to mention you seem like a wonderful husband and father.) The comments you received on that post says more about the people who made them than they do about you. Sadly there are a lot of people in the world who are quick to judge and think the worst about everything. Anyone who read your post and have read any of your previous posts knows where you were coming from.
Just wanted to say how much I always enjoy your posts. Even if I don’t comment a lot. You’re a great writer and you always help me see things from another perspective. Keep it up.