We have always known that Quinny's largest barrier stands in the way of her social interaction with peers. Her anxiety of kid's unpredictable (and unforgiving) behavior paralyzes her abilities and highlights her disabilities- although we have seen her interact (and struggle) with youngsters (mostly close friend's kids) numerous times, and have been aware of these hurdles, it was a recent birthday party of one of her classmates, that I saw the onslaught of intolerance presented to her by her peers.
Within minutes of arriving to this bash, Quinny started to approach a few different kids, asking if she too could join in on their game. She was met with, "Go away. We don't like you Quinn." "You're weird." and other heart BREAKING verbiage. I immediately jumped in to facilitate kindness and compassion- soon realizing I needed to focus more on inclusion with Quinny than parenting other's kids. Carter and I became Lou's entourage: playing, laughing, encouraging. Reminding Lou how rad she is, and how lucky Carter and I are to be her friend.
Even so, Q continued to try and engage her classmates- the more she tried, the more rejection was sent her way, the more Mr. Anxiety built up her barriers. Soon our positive reinforcements meant nothing and Lou was left with shame, hurt and a bundle of quirks (flapping of arms, animal noises, negative language)- it was time to go home.
Not one time, at this shin dig, did another parent talk to their child, correct ill behaviors, educate on differences- it was Lou against the Lions (with her side kicks, Mom and Sis trying to compensate). When we got home, the kids went to bed and I cried my eyes out to Jake- I can't even describe the pain I had/have watching our precious daughter be treated so horribly. I knew we had an up-hill battle with friendship building, but I had no idea how painful the process was going to be.
I was so angry at the children.
I was so angry at the children's parents.
A few weeks later I picked Quinny up from school and asked her how her day went, our convo went as followed:
Me- Did you have fun today baby?
Q- The boys pushed me over again Mom.
Me- Oh honey, did you tell teacher Lisa? Adults are there to protect you and make you feel safe.
Q- Teacher Lisa helped me mom.
Me- oh good. Which friends did you play with today?
Q- No friends mom.
Me- Hows come Lou?
Q- Because it hurts less to not have friends (EXACT quote...and one I will never forget).
CRIED my eyes out.
Oh. My. God.
That was it. No more.
I was going to do everything in my power to teach the world about differences. To educate parents about disabilities, so they, in turn, can educate their kids. I was going to be that crazy mom who spent her life advocating tirelessly for kindness and TOLERANCE.
Of course we intervene as opportunities arise.
Of course we are in constant contact with her teachers and therapists but we need to do more- prevent more.
I intend this blog to be a platform for that. To remind the greater community of the simplicity of teaching kindness to their children. To remind their kids that not everyone is the same, and it is in those differences that we can find beauty and love.
That to change the world, we must offer those in need a safe place to grow, thrive and be filled with self worth.