Sunday, April 17, 2011

And They Say Kids Can Be So Cruel

Tonight I stopped at Dairy Queen with the kids. We were finishing our meals as an older lady and her adult son walked in. Immediately, it was apparent that something was "wrong" with him, and upon further observation, I could tell he had Down syndrome and severe disabilities as a result of it. He had little self control and his speech was unintelligible, but he was beautiful. He was oblivious of the stares from those around him and was simply happy to get his ice cream.

Not a minute later, a beautiful blond teenage girl and her mother walked into the restaurant, and got in line behind this gentleman. Hearing him speak, the girl couldn't contain her laughter and immediately headed for a booth to laugh at this guy. I was appalled. But I never would have imagined what was to follow. I fully expected her mother to come over and rebuke her for being insensitive, ignorant, immature, mean. But no. Her mother turned and laughed with her! I was beyond appalled. I was FURIOUS. The righteous anger of a mother welled up in me. How dare a MOTHER teach her daughter to be so cruel?

Thank goodness we were through with our meal (I had lost my appetite). I cleared the table and headed for the door. Being the middle child/peacekeeper/people-pleaser that I am, I had no intention of doing anything other than getting out of there. But something stirred in me, and I stopped as I came to their booth and said (politely), "Excuse me, but are you making fun of that gentleman up there?"

The girl froze, guilt written all over her face, and replied, "No."

"Oh, ok, I just wanted to make sure because I'm pretty sure he has Down syndrome, and so does my son, so I just wanted to make sure you weren't because that's so not cool."

And I walked out! Proud of myself. Shaking. Angry. Sad.

ADULTS!!! Grow up! Learn that different is ok. Don't excuse yourself for being ignorant. Choose to interact with people who are different than you. They don't have to have special needs in order to challenge yourself to get out of your bubble and grow. You teach your child so much more by the way you treat people than by the things you say. Imagine what a teachable moment that could have been for that teenage daughter if her mother had taught her about compassion, kindness, and sensitivity rather than immaturity, ignorance, and cruelty.

We cannot point fingers at our children and say, "Kids can be so cruel," if we ourselves are setting no better example. What slurs do you use in front of your children without even realizing it? Ever call someone or something retarded? Stupid? Dumb? Gay? We as adults must first live out kindness before we can ever expect our children to do the same.
Post a Comment