Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Lesson Taught....By My 11 Year Old!

With a heavy heart, Drew told me that some kids have been teasing Cal and another special needs child in their PE class. Drew has PE with them both. She explained what was being said, and then she told me that there were only a few who were teasing and that none of her friends were teasing; because they knew Cal. In fact, a few of them are sticking up for Cal and his friend. I told her it was kids that didn't understand Cal and his friend and autism, and they needed to be educated. The odd thing is that some are saying things to her about Cal, because they don't know she's his sister. I asked her how she handled it, and she said I just told them that Cal was born that way; and he thinks a little differently but other than that he's the same as they are. One girl asked how she knew this, and she told her Cal was her brother. She didn't believe Drew, so she asked Cal; and of course he said YES! I had Drew speak to Cal's teacher and get some guidance on how to handle this at school....his teacher is so wonderful! She reinforced that what Drew was saying was appropriate and made her feel much better. Drew also said there are a lot of kids who use the word "retarded", and it bothers her a lot. I told her that use to be a very common word to use when you meant goofy or weird or something like that and that it's not okay, but people seem to use it without really thinking about it being hurtful to others. She told me that she explained to those kids that there are really people in the world who have brains that work differently, and she didn't like them using that word! She has always stuck up for him, and it makes me so proud that she has the strength to do so. It also makes me so sad that she has been put in that position more often than she should have been. For Pete's sake....we're all a little quirky and different and special and odd and the same....can't we just see that that's okay and embrace people for who they are? It's hard but a wonderful life lesson, and she is a wonderful 11 year old teaching it! My children bless the lives of so many, and most of the time they don't even know it; and that's what blesses me!  

I am by no means perfect and will admit that it is very hard for "teasing" not to bring out the worst in me. But I have come to realize that there are so many children and adults who have had no experience with special needs children and need to be educated. I don't think it's okay that they tease anyone, typical or special needs children, and they need to be held responsible. Sometimes children (and maybe even some adults) need to be taught to be compassionate and accepting. Unfortunately many aren't, but I don't always think that's the child's fault either. Because we live it, have experienced it many times (even from adults), my girls are educated and have been taught to be accepting; because it is often more hurtful to them than it is to their brother. I would hope that even if we didn't live it, I would have had the insight to teach them to be accepting and love all those who cross their paths. I also think that many children who are the "teasers or bullies" have their own struggles and look for someone (an easy target for lack of a better description) to take those feelings out on. Drew, herself, was bullied by a 4th grader when she was in 1st grade. Once she told me about it, it was quickly rectified at school. I do remember discussing with her in depth the possible struggles that boy might have been having and why he might have picked her to bully. The child, who is being bullied/teased, also has to be taught how to deal with it appropriately. I think Drew has done a great job with this, because of her past experiences and her sweet compassionate soul. I do my best, but there have been times when mama bear came out; and I had to firmly set an adult straight about rude and inappropriate comments made about Cal. For all of you who know my boy or any other person who may not be easily accepted, keep up the good work in teaching your children and modeling behaviors of how to do what Jesus commanded....LOVE! YOU GUYS ARE THE BOMB! 

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