I think at one time or another all parents think about how their kids will be when they start going to school. How they will be treated by other kids and how they will treat other kids. I know that I work very hard to help my children understand that all people are different. They come in different colors, sizes, shapes, ethnicities, abilities and so on. I try to tell them that they need to let everyone in their hearts. Even those that aren't kind to others because you never know what that child might be dealing with at home.
The truth is though, not every parent spends as much time having open dialogue with their kids about these things. Maybe it's not intentional or in some cases maybe it just doesn't matter enough but either way, this needs to change. We need to create a world in which every single human can travel their lives not worried about what someone might say about what they are wearing, how they styled their hair, how their face looks, what they weigh, whether they're social or not, athletic or not, or a college graduate or not. Most definitely, no one should worry about being bullied over those things. These things simply just don't matter when it comes to how we treat others.
We all come from different walks of life. Our children need to understand that. Our children need to spend time sharing the message of kindness with others. No more bullying, no more singling people out, no more sitting behind a computer and saying mean things to others. It's a breath of fresh air to just let kindness inside of you. It makes you feel free. It makes you feel like you are making a difference. Teaching our kids this does make a difference... it does matter.
Why am I writing this? On top of worrying about my older children and teaching them about kindness and love of others, I have two special needs children. Two children that may potentially face bullying in a way my other kids most likely won't. On Saturday evening, I shared a photo of my daughter, Mallory, on her Facebook page (Mallory's Way). For those that don't know, Mallory was born with a rare disorder called Pfeiffer Syndrome. This cases the premature fusion of the skull as well as the fingers and toes. It also causes the mid face to be sunken in leading to potential breathing struggles, which is why she has a tracheostomy. This was the photo:
This photo was taken at an event hosted by Peach's Neet Feet. Peach's Neet Feet is an organization, headed up by Madison "Peach" Steiner-Akins, that strives to spread the message of kindness through it's hand painted shoes for children with special needs and life threatening illnesses. As you can see from the photo, Mallory was in the photo on the banner she's sitting in front of.
Typically I get very kind and sweet comments on Mallory's photos. On Sunday morning, I saw a notification on her page and clicked to go look at it. It was a comment. It said, "she is ugly". Nothing more, no punctuation. Nothing. How could someone say such a thing? I mean, even if someone thought it, why take the time to write it? Hide it from your newsfeed and move on if my daughter is really that offensive to you. I deleted the comment and banned the user. I didn't want anyone to see it and I didn't want there to be drama on Mallory's page towards that user.
I later found out that this comment was posted by a 13 year old girl. Wow. I tell you, if I found out that one of my kids posted a comment like that on anyone's page... I don't care if they have a disability or not, they would no longer have a computer. Instead, they'd be writing about why they felt the need to act in such an ignorant and disrespectful way. Then, they'd be apologizing. They'd not have use of a computer or electronic device again until they proved they were mature enough to treat people with respect. But I know I'd never have to worry about my kids doing something like this... because they know. They get it. I've been teaching it to them since they were young. Kindness has always been an important message to me, not just since Mallory came along.
So, I'm asking... please... parents... teach your kids about kindness? Sit down and talk about what it means to them. Talk about what they do when they come across a child with special needs and explain that they should treat these children just like any other child... because that's what they want, to be treated like the other kids. I want my daughter to be treated like the other kids. They don't deserve to be singled out, bullied or teased because of something they cannot control. God put them here the same as you and me and we are all special. We all have something to offer the world. Teach your kids that. It matters. It matters to other children. It matters to parents like me that want to cry and protect my baby when someone acts so terribly. Mostly, it makes me sad for kids like that 13 year old, who apparently haven't been taught better or have so much hardship in their lives that they have to take it out on a photo of a beautiful little baby. Give your kids the tools to handle the difficulties they face so that they can take part in spreading kindness.
Let's join forces, folks. Let's spread kindness wherever we go. There cannot be room for fear or hatred. Every beautiful child, like Mallory, deserves to live a full and happy life... filled with nothing but kindness and love!
P.S. I don't know who could call that beautiful little face ugly!!!!