Like most kids, I started off with a soft heart. I was around five years old when I desperately wanted to bring a girl with special needs home for a play date.
She hit and bit, clenched her fists and got red in the face when she was upset, but she was still a kid.
So what if she wasn’t like me? The desire to play with friends and have a childhood still had to be in her, right?
This continued with kids who sat by themselves at lunch, or the classmates who were just “different” in general.
But my innocence wore off around middle school, and the ugly presented itself from then, until parts of high school. Suddenly, I’m an outgoing freshman and feeling like “hot stuff” when I make the Varsity Cheerleading Team.
Talking to the “weird” ones might put a damper on my social status, as if I had one. I’d pass by the twin boys in my class who felt they had little to be desired, and I’d join in on the guilt-free laughter with classmates.
It was cruel.
To me, it was meaningless and funny. But to them, I will never know how deep my words cut.
I’m thankful this stage in my life was so brief and, to be honest, it took a humbling experience to strike down my mean streak.
I came out on the better end of the stick, and I am currently “Mommy” to five incredible kids. All of whom, I will cry with when another child hurts them like I have hurt others in the past.
Instead of ignoring the problem, I hope to instill a judgement-free, caring mindset in my young children, who I’m raising to be young adults.
I’m not meaning to sound like a, “My child will never do that or I’ll whoop some butt” type of mom, but really..
“Kids will be kids” is not in my parenting vocabulary when it comes to putting someone else down. And if I find out one of my kids has been taunting another classmate, I’ll probably turn into the Wicked Witch of the West within a matter of seconds.
There will be a lot of “Why did you do that’s” and “I’m so disappointed in you’s.”
But beyond teaching them why what they did was so wrong, I hope to explain how this hurts someone else. All the while, encouraging them to look at life from this “laughable someone’s” perspective.
What’s going on in their life?
Do you even know?
You see, if my child is given the opportunity to familiarize and empathize with someones situation (whatever it may be), it’s exceedingly more difficult to categorize them solely on outward appearance.
Maybe they’ve been dealt a bad hand, or maybe they haven’t. Either way, maybe their business has nothing to do with you.
If their existence of “being” is not negatively interrupting your daily flow of life, then what’s it to ya, kid?
This goes along the lines of parenting judgement-free, all around.
We are raising an ENTIRE generation here, people! If we teach our kids to only see what is hidden on the inside, rather than what is so pungently obvious on the out, they will recognize (and cherish) the gold that is within every single person.
Let them bring the girl with special needs home for a play date. Or let them be friends with the greasy haired, smelly kid — without pointing out those flaws. After all, those little ears hear everything you say.
Maybe then, and only then, there will be the difference we hope to see in this world.