Friday, May 27, 2011
Our Son's Finest Moment
The little girl stank.
Our son Christopher wanted to have nothing to do with her. She was a girl in his second grade class who had no friends. No one wanted to be close to someone with her odor.
Some of our son's friends called her derogatory names. Some mistreated her, tripping her when she walked by or "accidentally" running into her on the playground.
Christopher knew better than to do anything that would get himself into trouble. He avoided the temptation to mistreat the little girl. But he didn't like her. He did not like her smell. And he could not bring himself to intervene when she was being picked on by other kids.
After a few weeks in school, we discovered the cause of her smell. The girl had a medical condition preventing her from completely controlling her bladder. Sometimes she would wet herself.
She could not prevent an occasional accident; and it made her life difficult.
When Christopher found out about her medical condition, he still did not like this little girl. However, he began to ask us, "Do you feel sorry for ________? She doesn't have any friends." Slowly, he began to empathize with his classmate. He began to think about what life would be like for him if he could not control his ability to go to the bathroom when needed. He began to realize that he might have problems in making friends. He started to understand that he might be defensive, too, if he were called names or picked on by other kids all the time.
It took a long time, but near the end of the school year, Christopher announced to us one evening, "___________ and I are allies now." (He refers to his friends as his "allies".) He had convinced a few other boys in his class to accept the girl into their group. He had risked the rejection of his friends in order to bring an ostracized little girl into his group.
For the first time as a second grade student, the girl had "allies". She had a group who accepted her. She had a few boys who would defend her rather than mistreat her.
It was our son's finest moment.