Something happened the other day while we had Hollis at the park, and I've known it's been coming for many years. We were walking up the ramp to go to the slide and a little girl, about 6 years old said to her playmate, "Run away from the scary boy!" Hollis didn't understand this, which was fortunate, but I did, and, of course, it hurt me to hear it. There was a second when I told myself to ignore it, because kids this age don't really understand what her issues are, just that she's very different, and having one side of her head shaved with a big scar certainly isn't normal either. I decided I couldn't let it go, and approached the kids gently as possible, explaining that she isn't a boy, despite the short haircut, that she has more challenges in getting around than they do, that she can't talk like they do, and that she definitely isn't scary. The kids had lots of questions after this, so I answered them in the best way I could, trying help them understand why she is the way she is, and that she's OK that way.
We've often had questions from kids, and many puzzled looks, and some who even hide, but this was the first time I've overheard a mean comment. As I said, we've been expecting this as long as we've known about her disabilities, and I promised myself that I wouldn't come down hard on those who say hurtful things. I realize that from a child's perspective, Hollis can be frightening, because she is so big, but essentially has the abilities of a toddler. This is terribly confusing! I have found that most kids are very curious once you explain a little bit about what's going on. Instead of chastising kids for making a such a comment, I'm hoping that by helping them understand one child's disabilities we will encourage them to be more tolerant and eager to learn about others'.
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