He is a bit different...
Sometimes it isn't easy being a mom who talks about kindness, designs with kind in mind & preaches about EVERYBODY being NORMAL. I can't raise my voice without someone calling me on the carpet or telling me to T.H.I.N.K! Or if I get mad at my husband over something silly, I get that head tilt, eyes up, "shame on you that was uncalled for and UN KIND!" look. BUT. Being a mom who is actively and passionately and constantly talking about kindness also has it's benefits.
I truly don't just talk about being kind, but I really TRY to BE KIND. I am only human of course, but there pretty much isn't anything that happens that I can't find a bright side to. There isn't any glass in our lives that isn't refillable. I grant myself permission to have crazy I'm a mom of 5 and my husband uses a new towel EVERY DAY day, but I never stop talking to my kids about love, kindness, and acceptance.
I want to tell you all why I think it is SO important and NOT a waste of time. Last night my oldest played in the Semi Finals for his CYO school basketball team. (GO CARDINALS!). Sigh. We did not win the game. BUT we learned. We played our hearts out. And every single parent was extremely proud of our boys, their hearts & valiant effort. We could have had that game. We didn't. But we gave it our all!
That being said, a player on the other team (I might add that this team was exceptionally talented & well coached) has one half arm. It is certainly something that everyone on our team probably noticed the first time we played them, but we didn't talk about it. I am certain that every one of us was thinking the same thing, though. That kid is GOOD. One and a half arms or ten arms. That kid can PLAY. Just as well as his teammates. He doesn't let what makes him different hold him back. And I think that he is plain AWESOME.
Anyhow, when we got home way past bedtime, I was tucking Ryan, my 5 year old, in by myself because daddy had to run out with our 2nd oldest to get materials for his Science Expo. I only mention this because I WISH he had been there. He usually is. I will never forget this conversation and I walked out of his room soon after crying happy tears.
So I finished tickling his back, singing "My Wish", tucked him in, kissed his forehead and turned to leave. He called me back and quietly said to me, "Mom. Did you see that boy on the blue team that God didn't give him both of his arms?" I took a deep breath and said, "Yes Ryan I sure did. He was a REALLY good player wasn't he?" Ryan replied, "Yea he was really good. I can't believe how good he was since he doesn't have both of his arms." I said "I can't believe it either! But it just goes to show you that God makes everybody the way he makes them for a reason! And maybe God made that boy special so he could show others that being different doesn't mean you can't do what everybody else can do!" To which Ryan replied, "Mommy. He is a bit different. But different is normal. And God loves us all the same."
You can imagine my pride and surprise. We talked about how curiosity is perfectly fine, and then I got out my phone and showed him pictures of Mary Cate Lynch. We talked about what makes her different and what to do if and when we see someone like her or someone like the boy in the game. It is so natural for kids to wonder and have questions about things! We don't want to dim their wonder! But as parents it's our job to teach them that we are ALL DIFFERENT!!!!!!!! If we see someone who looks different or acts differently or doesn't share our same interests or opinions, it's ok to wonder and or be upset. It's not ok to laugh or point or make fun of them. If my 5 year old can grasp this concept, anybody can. They are never too young to learn. And we can always take the time to make the time to have these conversations. Kindness always wins, bottom line. And as parents, it is our privilege and our duty to lead kindly.