When a mother suspected that her son was the target of school bullies, she decided to take an unusual approach to tackling the problem.
“You don’t have to like him, but you do have to respect him,” wrote MaryAnn Parisi of Connecticut, US, in an open letter she shared on Facebook addressing her son’s bullies.
MaryAnn decided to very publicly share her 11-year-old son Michael’s story on Facebook, asking that bullies take a second to understand him and learn to respect him for the incredible obstacles he has endured throughout his very young life, and the ones he continues to work towards overcoming to this day.
Michael was adopted by MaryAnn at birth after he was born 3 months premature, and has since faced developmental problems, but has done so with a kind hearted and positive approach every step of the way.
Despite the physical attributes bullies pick on him for, his mom says he “forgives and honestly, he forgets too. There is not one judgmental bone in his body.” She adds: “To this day, his smile is the best thing ever.”
Michael was born at 26 weeks. Just over 3 months premature. I am not his bio mom. But in every other way, I am his mother. He spent the first 3 months of his life fighting to survive. Shunts, blood transfusions, etc. His mother left him 3 months later. He has survived failure to thrive and numerous other health issues to become the strong, healthy boy he is. He didn’t learn to talk till he was 3 years old. Walking was very delayed. He didn’t have teeth till after his first birthday. He was so very behind. But he loved. Oh how he loved. To this day, his smile is the best thing ever. There is not one person he doesn’t like/love, including those who tormented him today. He forgives and honestly, he forgets too. There is not one judgmental bone in his body. I strive to be more like him daily but fall very short. You called him brace face today, before you were picking on him because of his eating habits. Did you know he physically can not control the food staying in his mouth. Or how very bad his hand/eye coordination is. Those braces are just one of the many steps he will endure, to help align his lower jaw that never fully developed. So he doesn’t spill his food or chew weirdly anymore. So you won’t pick on him.
Kicking his chair, calling him stupid, ugly, brace face, bucky beaver. Telling him to sit down and shut up is not the way. You don’t have to like him, but you do have to respect him. He’s a fighter, that’s a very small portion of his story. Share, teach, grow. Most importantly respect those around, you never know what they have been through.
MaryAnn told FOX 61 that her son had been very upset lately by people at school, but that he is “most definitely resilient.” She says she’s glad her post is getting attention because if “this helps in some small or large way, then it has done so much more than allowing an angry and hurt mom [to] vent.”