It happened. The day that I knew was coming, and have been dreading since the day our sweet little boy with special needs was born, happened. Two boys were laughing at our angel. And at church, no less.
It’s the kind of thing that you replay over and over in your mind, trying to make sense of, even though there’s no sense to be made. No amount of replays will take it back. And I felt…mortally wounded.
Rationally, I know that mean people’s opinions don’t have any validity. And most adults, let alone two young boys, have no understanding of what we and he go through, and the kind of true angel our little boy is. And I should be grateful that, at least for this encounter, my son was unaware of the snickering. There was no real harm done, except to my heart. And to my sense of hope for my little boy’s future. I felt like curling up in the fetal position and bawling, and then retreating into our own little world, never to allow my little pearl to be set before swine again. Because if anyone takes away his sense of worth, his sheer happiness, or dims the light in his eyes, my heart just can’t handle it.
So I cried. And I hurt. And I swirled with thoughts and emotions all week. I wanted so badly to share some choice words with those boys, and remind them of their self-evident station as scum of the earth. I wanted to unleash the wrath of this mama bear’s fury all over their ignorant selves. Red hot words that I’m not proud of, rehearsed through my mind.
Mentally, I understand that people aren’t always nice. But what kind of person picks on a child with special needs? Who picks on a child who is so completely without guile that he literally does not know what the word “mean” is? And how can I trust the world with a gift that they don’t even recognize?
And so this one misguided moment at church ate up my thoughts for weeks. Eventually, though, I realized that I don’t have the time or energy to let people who simply don’t know, get to me this way. To allow their ignorance, or my anger, to have so much power over me. Or to dampen the light and love that this little boy spreads wherever he goes. Those boys have clearly not had the opportunity to know someone like my son. Because if they knew him, they would never have laughed like they did. They don’t understand, or weren’t taught. So my son and I will teach them.
My son is the embodiment of love. It’s his gift. And I know that in spite of the boys’ disrespect, my son would still want to be their friend. So I will follow my son’s example of unconditional love and kindness. And we will set an example for these boys, of how to respond with dignity and kindness, even to those who do not extend the same. Afterall, those who need the most love often seek it in the most unloving ways. I’m going to try my best not to see these boys as bad boys, just uneducated boys. And extend my love to them where our circles may yet overlap.
But setting a good example also calls for standing up against bullying. Next time, with those boys or others, I will kindly call them out. Tell them I couldn’t help but notice their laughter…tell them that is my son and he is kind and amazing and he means the world to me…and would they like to meet him and have a new friend. If not, so be it. We will love them anyway. Their ignorance is their loss not mine. I will also teach my son not to let untrue things or unkind people make him question himself or his worth. He is perfect just the way he is. And I will teach him that he can walk away or tell an adult if anyone makes him feel otherwise.
My son has something beautiful to offer the world. And I won’t retreat or hide it because a few people don’t understand.
So even though the mocking hurts. And even though I wouldn’t change my son for the world. Till the day I die, I will work to change the world for him. Two snickering boys at a time. ©
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