Friday, March 12, 2010

Family Values: In Praise of Patti Weir

This started out as an open letter to Johnny's mom, Patti Weir, a woman I admire so much that there aren't even words for it, but along the way it made itself into a poem--into free verse, actually, which, when the subject is Johnny Weir, seems exactly right.

Dear Patti,

From one mom to another:
You are amazing.

I would love to meet you for coffee.

You are funny, outspoken, and brave.

You are the only mom I know
who would allow the world to watch
as you plaster on huge fake eyelashes
to be interviewed by your son,
who himself has donned a blonde wig,
fake glasses, and a Russian accent,
and begins the interview with,
"He came out of your vagina,"
to which you simply nod and smile.

It's easy for the rest of us to forget
that the phenomenon known as Johnny Weir
did not just fall out of the sky one day
for our entertainment.

Once upon a time, he was a little boy.
Your beautiful little boy.

(I'm sure he still is every time you look at him.)

A little boy who very much went his own way.
"Even when I was little, I was playing on a soccer team
and running the complete opposite way,
pretending to be a zebra, an ostrich, or something.
So I have always been ...  like this."

"We tried soccer, baseball and hockey,"
you said,
"but Johnny never liked team sports.
He was so shy and quiet.
But on the ice, he came alive.
It was OK to be himself.''

Johnny has often said
that it was you and his dad
who taught him that it was OK
to do just that:
to be himself.

But while you instilled in him that it was OK,
I don't think it was ever easy.

When ignorant people
made appallingly ignorant comments
about Johnny during these last Olympics,
he shrugged.

"I've heard worse in bathrooms and whatnot about me."

(I can only imagine
the incredibly hurtful incidents
that inform that simple sentence,
and the pain they must have caused
And you.
Because a wound inflicted on your child
is so much worse than anything
you might suffer directly.)

But you and your husband, John,
raised your boys to know this:

"You must always be yourself
and always enjoy what you are doing
and take no prisoners.

"You can’t care what anyone else thinks
because really there is no basis for that in your life.

"You have to live your life for yourself."

Johnny says you were very upset
that he chose to withdraw from Worlds this year.
And yet I know you remain
his unconditional support.
And that's what allows him
to make his own decisions
and stand behind them,
because even when you disagree with him,
you're there
standing behind him.

Your wickedly witty boy
is an inspiring example
of grace, dignity, and courage:
a man who owns who he is.
And in the end,
that's all that really matters.

And we can all see that your little boy
became this very fine young man
very, very much because of you.

So thank you, from all of us
who have fallen in love with Johnny,
to you--
who loved him first
and fiercely
and so very well.

To show your support for Johnny Weir and his family,
please sign this petition! Let's call out the sponsor of the
Stars on Ice tour who won't invite Johnny
because he's not "family friendly"(?)
More info here, here, here, here, herehere,
and pretty much everywhere!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


Maggie St. said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Beautifully said!

Anonymous said...

I am 100% certain that raising a child as uniquely gifted as Johnny was not without its challenges. Yet, clearly Patti has been solid in the mothering and raising up of her child.

To raise up any child to be a whole, healthy, fully functioning adult capable of being productive, self supporting, kind, compassionate, and of strong ethics is never an easy task, as those of us who are mothers know all too well. But, to raise up and nurture into adulthood a child who is such a gifted creative artist; a child whose emotional self, perceptions of the world, other people, relationships, and his own self-sense are filtered through an inner eye made uniquely acute as a result of that giftedness would require the type of strong woman mothering that Patti has provided.

I am certain that Patti was supported and helped in her excellent mothering by her husband and sister. That Johnny has grown up to be responsible enough to financially give back to his family is awesome.

Thank you Patti for encouraging and nurturing Johnny to be the wonderfully unique individual that he is.

Anonymous said...

So many of us feel this way...Thank you for expressing them so wonderfully!

Courtney said...

This was so beautiful! And I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment, Patti Weir is an amazing woman. Thank you for writing this. :)

Anonymous said...

one of the nicest things about Johnny (besides his fantastic skating, beauty inside & out, and general awesomeness!) is that he makes other people who don't fit in feel like they could. he's a beautiful example of doing your own thing and i LOVE how happy he makes me. thanks for existing in this world, Johnny, you are truly special!