Monday, August 07, 2006

Teaching Jack about Different Abilities

Jack started Summer Camp today at the blind children's school Jenelle used to attend. I enrolled him into this camp for two reasons; 1) Summer camp in August for a 5 year old is a rare find in deed! And 2) I want him to experience other children that are like his sister. Today as we arrived, Jack noticed a little blind boy standing next to his Aide with his eyes closed holding a cane. Jack pointed and said, "Look Mommy, that boy has his eyes closed." I finally got to say the one thing I've been longing to say, to help Jack realize that all kids are different.

A year ago, our friend Kim (Lily's Mom) wrote what I thought was a very poignant piece about "The Short Bus" and teaching our (typical) children to accept that other children may appear different on the outside. Here is a short bit of that piece she wrote on June 15, 2005:

Since Lily got her wheelchair we have heard many comments and some are ok and some not so ok. Here are some examples of not ok. One little boy went right up to Lily, looked her over and then pointed and laughed. I shot his mother a look and she didn't seem embarrassed at all. A little girl at the mall just stared at Lily and finally yells "why is she in a chair?" Her mom said nothing, just ignored her daughter.

An example of ok behavior is at the Dr.'s office a little boy says "look mom she is in a chair" and his mom said "yes and you can be her friend." I almost cried with that comment. Kids are going to stare, point and ask why Lily is in a wheelchair and they should. Kids are filled with curiosity and they have honestly spewing out constantly. Our job as parents is to educate our children and show them that it is ok that there are kids in wheelchairs and kids that walk differently and talk differently.

These kids need to know that they don't have to be afraid or make fun just because they are different. I know this is all easier said than done but I am asking you parents to take that extra step to educate your kids, don't quickly shhh them and change the subject. Tell them that God made kids like Lily differently and she is still a kid just like you.

So when Jack pointed to this boy and stated matter of factly that his eyes were closed, I replied, "Yes, he is blind and he cannot see. And that is O.K., you can be his friend!" To which Jack looked up at me and simply smiled.


Juliabohemian said...

Oh how terrible for those parents to allow their children to act like that. I try to explain things to my kids as much as I can.
Probably those parents don't know what to say, so they choose to say nothing.

Leightongirl said...

Wow, right on! For sending him in the first place, and for being with him to tell him YES, they can be friends. Way to go.

ellie said...

I was just thinking that a lot of trouble in this world is caused by fear of something or someone who's different to the norm.

We've experienced the insensitive comments and looks firsthand and they keep on hurting.

Good job!