Thursday, August 20, 2015
So Who Decides What Different Is, Anyway?
A few weeks ago I took Mackenzie and Macy to the children’s pool to spend some time splashing around, swimming, and forgetting the 100 degree days we were having. We arrived at the pool just as they were opening, along with another nanna and her four year-old granddaughter who had Downs.
It took all of about two minutes for Mack and Macy to start playing with “Mandy”. They played with pool toys and splashed around in the water like they’d been friends their entire lives. And not once did my girls look at "Mandy" like she was different. Not once did they ask why she didn’t talk very much or why she wore a swim diaper—not while we were at the pool or even later. To be honest, I don’t think they even noticed these things, but if they did, none of it mattered to them. What mattered was that they’d made a new friend.
“Mandy’s” nanna complimented me on how accepting the girls were and thanked me for ‘letting’ them play with her. And when “Mandy” and her nanna left before we did, “Mandy” ran over to the girls, telling her nanna she needed to “Say bye to friends”.
I was so proud of the girls for being so friendly and engaging and thankful for their innocence. I was equally proud of Zach and Becca for being parents who are raising their girls to see past someone’s outward appearance to who they really are and I encourage every parent to do the same.
Don’t encourage your children toward friendships with the kids who dress the nicest, wear the most expensive shoes, live in the biggest houses, or have the parents with the highest paying jobs in an attempt to make sure your child is one of the popular kids or to make them look good.
Don’t encourage your children toward friendships with the most athletic kids hoping it will ‘rub off’ on your child and turn into future scholarships or with any other group of kids because it will make your child look good.
Don’t discourage your children from forming friendships with children who aren’t as clean or well-kept, economically privileged, or physically or mentally capable as your child is because you don't think 'those kids' are good enough for your child.
Instead, teach your children to be kind to everyone and choose their friends based on who the person is on the inside—kind, compassionate, honest, trustworthy, and fun to be with. Teach your children to look past the different. Or better yet, teach them to not see those things at all, but instead, to look at the heart of a person.
Besides, who decides what different is, anyway?
Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.