Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Wounded

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This week Erik got off the school bus with a relatively deep scratch across one cheek. This was paired with the recurrent wound that appeared a few days earlier on his nose. He sustains the nasal injury every few months, and we are never able to determine its origin. A round scab simply materializes in the same place, perfectly centered on the bridge of his slightly upturned nose like a dermatologic crop circle. With the additional flesh wound freshly etched on his cheek, he looked a little like had had just finished a UFC cage fight.

I asked Erik what happened, not really expecting an answer. He stated very matter of factly that a little boy (who shall remain nameless in the interest of preventing vigilante justice) had scratched him at school.

When we arrived at school the next day, we were greeted by apologies that we had not received a phone call about the incident. Because Erik's teacher has been terrific about calling me about Erik's accomplishments and occurrences in the classroom, I reassured her that I was not upset. The teacher confirmed the very boy Erik named had scratched him while they were both standing in line at the sink to wash their hands. When confronted, the boy had apparently confessed, but an adult hadn't seen exactly what occurred.

I sometimes witness Erik standing too close to other children, making them visibly uncomfortable, perhaps asking them a hundred times what their name is, despite the fact he was in their class last year, or attempting to spark a conversation by emitting animal noises. He often doesn't understand that he is surrounded by a tough crowd and continues on with his act, which is sometimes quite painful for me to watch. Some children simply walk away. If they know their parents are watching, they will often stand still and attempt to be polite, but I can easily see their true feelings just underneath the surface. Children are much too honest to hide much for very long. At this age, they are beginning to be slightly cruel and very competitive, loudly pointing out Erik's differences to others to pad their own budding sense of self. The more curious ones ask me questions about Erik's behavior, and I am slowly getting used to providing simplified answers. There are some who don't like having someone who is so different pressing his nose directly against theirs.

In this case, what happened will remain a mystery.

Maybe this child accidentally scratched my son with an unruly hand making a sudden, uncontrolled motion. Maybe he was throwing a tantrum of his own. Or maybe he waited until the adults weren't watching and hurt the strange kid who just refused to get out of his face. In any case, Erik undoubtedly loves this kid today every bit as much as he did a week ago.

And I suppose that is one of the things that makes my son so "strange" and "different."

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Blogger Noel said...

I hear ya. Abi's differences get pointed out by not so nice kids all the time at the park. I can understand the kids asking questions but it is the attitudes after the questions that get me. Kids are cruel to each other and if they see any kind of difference they are sure to point it out.
Hope things at school get better...if not maybe Erik should watch more UFC with mom :) and pick up some pointers!

11:08 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I think it doesn't make Eric different just makes him a pre-schooler :)

5:12 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

We are starting to get those same questions about Emmy from other kids. Her behavior use to fit in more, but now that she is taller and looks older it is less acceptable. Emmy has turned into quite a little hand flapper lately.

Emerson has not yet come home from school injured by someone else (only herself or play equipment). The day that happens I will bawl my eyes out. Our kids are just so innocent.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why the school hasn’t asked you to come in on a special day for questions and further explanation with the kids and teachers present.

Why not have an opportunity for all to learn about Williams Syndrome and more importantly to get to know Erik, and what makes him smile.

Maybe I'm day dreaming, but I don't sit at the "perfect table" and my daughter doesn't either.

I have used numerous teaching opportunities of "We're Different, We're the Same" a book by Sesame Street.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

That made me sad, I just feel the same way now and he's only 2! I'm dreading him going to school already. He'll probably be fine. It's me that I'm worried about. Glad you are back!


7:41 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

this post came at a good time for me, Nancy. Last night I watched as Payton was invading another child's space. The child was trying to be pleasant, but I could tell she was VERY uncomfortable with Payton's closeness. I'm also seeing the stares more often. Previously Payton was young enough, people didn't really pay any attention. Now, she's getting the stares. It really is tough to swallow.

Payton has not come home from school yet scratched up. However, if someone were to scratch her up or hurt her she would do the same as Erik and love them as much as ever (however, repeatedly ask the person for weeks after "why you do that to me?")

9:28 AM  

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