One of the hardest things in being a parent is trying to shelter your kids from pain. It’s an impossible task most of the time, but when they are young it’s a lot easier than when they get older. My oldest son is 9 and in 4th grade. This year he has started to really care what others think. He comes home most days telling us about his biggest issue right now which is getting picked last for sports. The other kids are not mean to him but they don’t cheer him on or ask him to be on their team. I really hate to hear him feeling left out and discouraged. The mother in my would like to fix this problem for him, but I know that life is full of not getting picked for the team and you have to learn how to deal with it. We tell him how proud we are of him and what a good boy he is and build him up at home, and then hope he can deal with the feelings of discouragement when things don’t go his way sometimes. He is a really likable kid, but is shy and we are trying to help him build some social skills so that others will feel more comfortable around him. I have found, being shy myself, that people are reluctant to be friends with shy people because they don’t know how to relate to them or think they are stuck up. I am sure there will be multiple talks about this sort of thing in our house over the next few years as we enter middle school. Kids are just mean sometimes, especially in middle school. I overheard two young girls talking recently and the other pointed out that her friend’s dress was a little too tight and that she was a little overweight. I felt horrible for this young girl. Well, both girls really, the one who said the comment was more than likely just pointing this flaw out because she herself is insecure.
It’s these sort of things that makes me the most nervous about raising kids with special needs. Even “normal” kids get picked on but kids with special needs get it much worse. Bringing our 10-year-old daughter home, who is going to look and act very different from the kids around her, scares me. I don’t want her treated badly or picked on, and the same for our son Joshua. although at age 3 that doesn’t really happen yet.
Last night my husband and I taught the class at church that have kids the same age as our daughter. We decided to take that time to tell these kids about our daughter and explain her differences and allow them to ask questions. I was unsure how this might go. It went really well. The kids asked good questions about Elizabeth and then they began telling stories about kids in their classes that had special needs or that others were mean to, and how they stuck up for them or were their friend. I was so happy to hear them being so accepting and offering to help our daughter when she comes home. It warmed my heart. Now if I could just get everyone to be so accepting.