My child stands out. He is a snappy dresser who prefers button down dress shirts and black dress shoes than the near uniform of most children of jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts. His skin is like a warm latte brown, the result of the union of two people of different tones. His smile often a lopsided adorable grin, his mind creative, and he can be rather thoughtful. Yes, he is a standout kind of child for so many reasons. I just hope that the thing people don’t focus on, the reason he stands out to them, is due to his medical condition known as Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T.)
I took two very deep breaths, set my shoulders, and strode through the door of Braden’s elementary school today. I wasn’t quite sure what I was about to encounter, but I knew that half of them would be chest high, full of boundless energy, and rather curious as to why one of their classmates mom’s was coming to talk to them all. They were all huddled on the rug, cross legged, and eager to listen and be heard. One by one they asked questions and entertained with stories of their own. Such curious little minds they all have. I am guessing I mainly fumbled through what was to be an informative lesson, I am not so sure I succeeded all that much. Regardless, I am hoping that the one thing they took away from it all was that my little boy is more like them than different.
I hope that he stands out in their minds. That they learn to look past his unique way of speaking, and learn that sometimes we just need to listen a bit more carefully. I wish that they take away that we all are packaged differently, but how we move from one place to another does not need to divide us. That they learn that those who are different may make really great friends. I hope they learn patience, tolerance, acceptance, and how to build a community rooted in kindness. I believe that learning to reach out a helping hand, standing up for each other, and learning to lift people up are all life skills that can only enrich.
I know that Braden was concerned about what his new classmates would think of him, what they would say, and how they feel about him. He is rather sensitive in that way. His only message to his classmates for today, “Please tell them I don’t mean to step on their toes. I am sorry if I hurt their feelings.” Braden’s lesson this year for his classmates is compassion. Heaven knows he is teaching me every single day, and I feel so thankful for that.