Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Prefer The Word 'Breast'

My child says  the word 'breast.' And I'm totally fine with that. But that's not the story I want to share with  you. Oh no. The story I want to share with you is the one where another mom is not fine with her child saying the word breast. In fact she is anything but fine. She is all kinds of not fine.

I mentioned here that I taught special education for three years. I absolutely loved it. The kids were amazing and I learned something from them every single day. What I did not love? The parents.  Wait, wait, wait. Don't get all judgey. Let me explain. Most of the impairments that I dealt with were the kind you call 'familial.' Which means that most likely Grandma and Grandpa were slightly impaired, and had a child. Said child married another child like themselves. And they in turn had a child. Follow me? So the parents I saw every day were not always fully cognizant. They were not always on my side. They did not really understand the need for proper nutrition, clothing, diapering, behavior, hygiene, etc. It was an uphill battle. Not all the parents were like this, obviously. But most were, yes. I quickly learned that if I wanted to stay sane (a relative term, I understand)  I had to keep a sense of humor about these parents. I had to deal with them gently but state the expectations firmly. 

So. One day, a parent came to me, Becky. Becky and I had a long history at this point. And it was not a good one. Just a few high lights:

* My first meeting with Becky found her in a sports bra, sheer prairie skirt, no underwear, and massively pregnant. Also? She was a very large woman. And she kept dipping her hands into her skirt to rub her lower belly.

* My first home visit to Becky's house. I'm pretty sure something was dead in there. I couldn't see it, but I know. I moved a pile of clothes to sit, then saw the dirt under them, and promptly moved them back for a barrier. There was a piece of sausage on the floor. A baby was crawling around. I assumed that when you live this way you don't really know you do. Like, you're blind to it. But as the baby grabbed the sausage, Becky snatched it out of his hand, smacked him and tossed it out of his reach, saying,

"Don't eat that! That's from dinner like a week ago! David threw it on the floor and it's been there since!"

 Note that she knew when it had landed on the floor, yet had not thrown it away nor did she throw it away then.

* Becky got a job at the local grocery store. In the bakery. Baking cakes. Don't ask me how, I have never understood this part. I went into the grocery store. I saw her mixing dough with her gloved arm, mixing that dough, up to her unshaven, unwashed armpit. I left very, very fast.  This is for real. I could not make this up. The stores sales of cakes, doughnuts etc dropped so much, they had to 'let' her go. (I mean, she was 'known' in the community. She was kind of hard to miss.)

* We had to mark David, her son, diapers' with a big 'X' on them to prove that they were ours. We'd put him in one of our diapers at 12:30 p.m on a Monday and he'd return on Tuesday at 12:30 with the same diaper on. We knew it was the same diaper because we had marked it with that great big 'X.' And I told Becky we were doing this, told her we were tracking how often his diaper was being changed.

 Back to the original point. Becky came to me one day. I was standing outside my classroom when she thrust herself in front of me and demanded,

 "Did you teach my kid the word 'breast?' Because we don't use that word!"

Remember, I taught 3 and 4 year olds with various impairments. Anatomy? Not a big subject. We concentrated more on, "My name is" and toilet training, walking, proper letter sounds etc. I assured her that no, I had not taught David, the word breast. She persisted that I had. I finally reminded her that David was in a class of 8 children, 4 of whom were non-verbal. It took me 3 months to teach David his name. I was pretty sure David didn't learn the word 'breast' in passing. She persisted. Finally, I said,

 "Becky. If one of the students had asked what that particular body part was, yes, I would have used the word 'breast.' But no student did."

Becky took a deep breath of victory and yelled at me,

"I knew it. You taught him breast. And we don't use that word in my house. We use the word 'teet' or 'tit.' Because a 'teet' could be anything. But I like the word tit. So if he asks, use it."

And she walked away.

Reactions?? (because really? I prefer the word 'breast')