I'm spinning early this week. It's not often that life hands me a Spin, but this weekend, it did. This week's topic is "appearances".
This weekend was beautiful in NE Ohio (I know, you're about to pass out from the shock). The weather was warm the sun was out. The Badger Clan headed out to the local park on Saturday to see if we could run off some little boy energy before nap time. LG had a great time exploring all the jungle gyms, and climbing apparatus. Since he was by himself, he occasionally tried to engage some of the other kids that were playing. Most had other siblings with them, so after the initial, "Hi" they went on their own way. One little boy was also alone, though. He was more than willing to scramble through the tunnels and down the slides with LG.
At first all I noticed was that he was a little bit bigger than LG. Maybe 4 or 5. Then my radar went off. Most 4 or 5 year old little boys want no part of waiting for a younger kid, never mind being encouraging or hold their hand. On closer inspection, the little boy was wearing hearing aids in both ears. It occurred to me that patience must come with all this little boy's territories. He might be happy to have a littlier kid to hang out with, it's probably less pressure for him. So, I just sat back and watched. They seemed to get along really well.
At one point LG finally noticed the little boys hearing aids, and made a grab for the wires behind his ears. I immediately jumped up to pull his hand back an make him apologize. But I was too late. The little boy had already taken LGs hand, very gently, and was trying to explain to him what the hearing aid was for. I was amazed. He knew just how to handle my two year old, what to say and how to explain. Far, far better than I ever would have. Here, I was ready to defend this little boy, and he didn't need it at all. He wasn't helpless or challenged at all, he was just patient and friendly.
What interests me most is that LG didn't see this little boy as "different" in any way, except that he had something curious in his ears. It might as well have been a baseball cap or shoes that light up. He was curious, but not in that "I want to know what's WRONG with you" way. More of an, "Oooh, that's shiny" kind of curiosity.
I'd like to think that I don't see people as dis-abled, but rather differently abled. But apparently, I don't. Even though I didn't judge the little boy as having a handicap, I still thought he needed more help than the average 4 year old would. All the I'm happy to say I was wrong in my thinking, though. Hopefully, all the differently abled people LG meets in life are as open and honest as this little boy. Maybe the next generation will not have to "learn" that we're all equals, they just won't know any different. (Is "differently abled" what we're supposed to say, now, by the way? I don't want to offend anyone. Please correct me if there is a better way to say it.)