Amber and I have long since accepted that sometimes Kaitlyn’s intense interest in subjects or shows will not always “keep up” with her peers. We are fine with that, and have agreed that we will allow Kaitlyn to pursue whatever interests her for however long it keeps her interest. We really do not care if she still enjoys Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, while the majority of her peers have moved on to whatever is popular these days. What concerns us most is that she is happy. And she is.
But when I came home from work yesterday and Amber told me that Kaitlyn was quite distraught about being made fun of by two of her “friends” about her interest in a show on PBS, I momentarily felt my blood pressure rising and my heart rate increasing. As a parent, I never will be ok with another child attempting to demean her. Never.
Two girls who are either in her class or she is with before school, decided it would be fun to pick on Kaitlyn because she watches Martha Speaks on PBS. If you are not familiar with the show, Martha is a dog who eats a bowl of alphabet soup, and instead of traveling to her stomach, the letters travel to her brain, resulting in her ability to speak. The show helps to expand vocabulary and teach kids synonyms. I think it has really helped Kaitlyn. Amber had reminded Kaitlyn that her BFF (there it is again!) and another good friend both watch the show, so she should not worry about what the other girls say about her.
While I am not happy about what happened, it did provide me with an opportunity to teach Kaitlyn a lesson as well. Last night, she was talking about how she wanted to wear something pink today for school pictures because the whole city is “going pink” in support of Breast Cancer Awareness (there will be no “angry blogger” post about this. The overall lack of support for Autism Awareness in our country makes me mad beyond belief, but there is nothing productive that can come by comparing the support received or not received.). She said that she would laugh at any boys that wore pink, so I asked her how it felt to be made fun of for watching Martha Speaks, and she admitted that it made her sad. I then made her realize that if she made fun of anybody for wearing pink, it would hurt their feelings, and she quickly understood that she should not make fun of people.
Later last night, I asked Amber something that had been on my mind since I found about the situation. I asked her if maybe those girls made fun of Kaitlyn because they are jealous of her; jealous because she is clearly smarter than them, and their only defense is to try to bring her down. That is what bullies do, right? Amber agreed that they probably were somewhat jealous of Kaitlyn. Being made fun of and being the target of insecure bullies is something that Kaitlyn is going to have to deal with for the entire time she is in school; it is our job as her parents to reinforce all the positives about her and about Asperger’s, and to make sure she surrounds herself with friends who support her (the best we can). We will not be able to shield her from everything, but we can certainly be there for her when she is down. She will be picked on, made fun of, and called names, and while that is sad, it says way more about everyone else than it does about Kaitlyn.