Thursday, April 21, 2016
There are worse things to be called than cute
"You're cute!" the guy said to Max. Yesterday afternoon, I had a handyman at our house checking out some work on the deck that needed to get done, and Max had just informed him that his name was "Fireman Max."
Well, yes, Max is cute. At 13 years old, he seems younger than his age, a running theme of his life. When he was a little kid, I felt glad for this. If people thought he was younger than he actually was, I reasoned, then they wouldn't be wondering why he wasn't yet walking or talking. Children wouldn't make fun of him.
As Max got older, his disabilities became more apparent. Children stared. Adults did, too. Still, he was cute. Not just in looks, but in his sunny disposition, too. I think that cuteness of his has helped break down the discomfort and awkwardness that some people feel around children with special needs.
But now, he's a teen who's cute in part because he has mannerisms that are younger than his years, like wearing a fire truck hat and telling people that his name is Fireman Max. He's also on the shorter side, which also contributes to his youthful appearance, along with the nighttime anti-wrinkle cream he uses. (Kid-ding.)
This is all to say that I've been wondering if it's still cool for people to refer to him as cute (as in, people who are not girls his age). Maybe I'm being overly sensitive because even if Max doesn't do things that other kids his age do, he has plenty of abilities and I want others to see that. People who know Max are aware of just how far he has come and how much he has matured; I hope that others who meet him see a young man who happens to have some childish habits. As always, I ache for people to see beyond the disabilities.
I mean, Max will always be cute to me because he'll always be my baby; same goes for Sabrina and Ben. And there are worse names to be called. Now that I am middle-aged, and still getting told on occasion that I'm cute, I have decided that it sure beats "You old hag."
Really, though, there is only one person whose opinion on this counts.
"Max, are you cute?" I asked him as we stood on the deck.
"No!" he said. "Handsome!"
The guy didn't understand that Max had said "handsome" so I translated, and he laughed.
"Yes, handsome! You're very handsome," he agreed.
Max grinned. He looked both handsome and cute, but I wasn't going to mention it.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:38 AM