I have a friend with three children. Two of the three are ill. Gravely ill. It’s a degenerative disease with no known cure, although through efforts of research and experimental medicine, “progress” and “hope” are words deeply engrained into their everyday lives.
Once she expressed a concern she had over elementary school boys making fun of her elder son. This mother, an educated woman, a sensible gal who had been around the proverbial block a few times, advised her troubled son that the next time some typically insensitive kid made fun of him—particularly for the way he walked with the slow limp of a fellow eight times his age—that he turn around, look the offensive kid straight in the eyes, and boldly tell him to FUCK OFF.
When I heard her relate this story, my immediate reaction was to crack up laughing. I thought to myself: “Yes! That’s right! Tell this moron to “fuck off.” What does he/she know about the seriousness of being critically ill—of facing a life-threatening illness that makes you different, when all you want to do is be the same? I thought her advice to her son was bold and empowering, and I believe she went on to say that he gave it a try one day and it worked. All the more reason to smile. In my heart I knew if anyone had a right to scream those words, it was this child.
Anyone who has survived childhood—healthy or sick—knows that kids can be really mean. But damn, so can adults. I’m not suggesting it’s always appropriate to tell someone who is bothering you to “fuck off,” but if you feel you have good reason and it makes you feel better, why the fuck not?!