“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Kids say the darnest things. Kids can be so sweet, so innocent, and so accepting of others. But they can also be brutally honest, rude at times, and not have a filter on what they say.
Looking slightly different from most, I’ve had a few too many experiences with rude kids and tend to avoid small children. Not that I have anything against little kids, they can be adorable! But unless I know the parents aka how they’ve been raised, I’m not super comfortable with them.
Every year for Halloween, my work hands out candy to a day care center. Newborns, toddlers, moms, and other helpers parade around the building, showing off their costumes and collecting candy! It is so cute to watch all the little ones come through the hallways!
As the kids paraded around this year, my co-workers and I handed out candy, commenting on each costume. As I was handing out candy, a girl around 4 years old looked at me and asked me “Why do you look like that? Why do you look weird? What’s wrong with your face?” She repeated this over and over. I would’ve understood if I had something on my face or was wearing a mask but I wasn’t. I was wearing my glasses and a headband, nothing too out of the ordinary.
Other kids were gathered around me waiting for candy and the parade was still going on so I figured she would just follow the group but instead she stayed near me, repeating her question. I did not mean to ignore her question, it just didn’t seem like the time to answer it. Plus, shouldn’t that be something a parent deals with?!
After giving her candy and commenting on her pretty costume, she left with the parade of kids. I heard her echoing down the hallway asking my co-workers “What’s wrong with that girl’s face?” There’s nothing quite like being made to feel insecure about myself by a 4-year-old!
A multitude of thoughts went through my mind that afternoon but one that kept popping into my head was how did this child not know any better? Did anyone ever take time to explain disabilities or special needs individuals to her?! I get being curious and kids wanting to learn but there is a fine between curiosity and being rude/ignorant. Please teach your kids that!
The next day, my co-worker and I were discussing what happened and how important it is to teach your kids. Teach them to be aware of the fact that some people may look or act differently from them. Teach them about individuals who are disabled, that we are people just like you. Teach them that it is okay to ask questions but sometimes when you’re unsure of something, especially when it comes to dealing with people, just be kind and ask later.
On Halloween night, I handed out candy at my house and there were kids who definitely stared at my face with puzzled looks. But despite their curiosity, they were kind and respectful.
I understand staring, that’s just something kids do but teach them how to react, educate them as much as possible. Kids are the future.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt