When you ask a relative about how you were as a child you hope to hear some positive attributes. For example, "Cute as a button", or "Busy as a bee", or maybe even "A little stinker". Any adjective or story that will help spark a childhood memory. Over the last few years, a few of my relatives have given me the same label over and over again..."special". That's right, over the last few years I have found out that my relatives thought I was slightly retarded in my youth.
In high school I heard about this for the first time. I don't know how the topic came up, but my mother told me how her mother, that's right, my own grandmother, constantly made comments on my mental health. How I seemed to be a little slow on the draw. My mother can laugh at it now, even at the fact that she sometimes agreed with her (the bitch is getting coal for Mother's Day). I was of course horrified and hurt. How did I come off so "special"? Sure, I peed on the floor once and carried around our parakeet by it's tail, but I was just being a kid right? Anyone? Another favorite is my aunt. She tells me how she would watch me play and talk and she would constantly think, "Oh dear, the child just ain't right." And again, everyone listening just laughs at this in agreement. My own family.
Now, I am not diagnosed with any mental disabilities. Although I have had my fair share of "special" moments, but who hasn't? I mean, when I thought the stapler was empty, instead of opening it to see if it was in fact empty, I tested it on my wrist instead. And to my surprise, there were a few staples left, one of which was now lodged in my wrist. Or no matter how many times I would cut open the ottoman to see what was inside, much to my mothers dismay, I would have to go back one more time and open it again, just in case anything changed. It did hurt when my family laughed at how I behaved in my childhood. But then I looked at some baby and toddler photos of myself. And then I started laughing. I have a huge head, which I believe I am still growing into (by the way, those "one size fits all" hats in the stores, they just mock me with their lies). And, okay, tricky sensitive territory here, but I just looked "special". Home videos have also helped me see what my relatives saw way back when. Why did I like to keep locking myself in the closet only wearing a pair of diapers and a hat? Though I thought it was very smart of me to start yelling at myself after I peed on the carpet, it shows I knew it was wrong. And so what, after opening all my birthday presents, I still wanted to go back and play in the cardboard house we had for years already, it shows I'm not materialistic. So, when it comes up again that everyone thought I was special when I was little, I can't help but laugh too. And I also have an interesting theory. You know how Asian comedians can make fun of other Asians, Hispanic comedians can make fun of other Hispanics, and Black comedians can make fun of everyone? Well, since I was thought to be, and even treated as special for so long, can I poke fun at my people? No, that doesn't sound right. Though I do feel less guilty when I laugh at the special jokes in "The Ringer".