Often times, the drive home from school is where I get the best information about my children’s day. This year, my son is in grade 4 and has a few new classmates; one of whom is in a wheelchair.
This is the first time my son has had someone in his class with a physical disability. I want my son to have a kind heart, and understand that a disability is just that – but it doesn’t change who the person is inside. I worry that fourth grade children may not have the same understanding as adults have, and I want to ensure the student is always treated with kindness, especially by my son. So I ask questions, encourage discussion on those drives home, and sometimes… moments are made.
Last week, I asked my son about his day and he mentioned playing dodge ball in gym class. Out of curiosity I asked, “What does (the girl in the wheelchair) do during gym class?”
Does he notice?
“Oh! Well today in dodge ball she pointed to which ball she wanted and her helper pushed her over to get it.”
Satisfied with that observation, I was going to change the subject but he continued, “And this one time, she and I were going for the same ball, but I let her have it.”
In that moment, I could have pulled the car over and hugged my son. It’s just one small gesture but he showed me, in that after-school chatter, that he is a boy with compassion. I can only hope that those little moments of simple kindness are what turn into big moments of making someone’s day, of changing how they feel and ultimately making a difference. Truly, if we can plant those seeds early, they will –and do— grow into something quite magnificent.
Instead, I smiled and told him I was really proud of him for being kind that day and that I’m sure the student appreciated it as well. I reminded him how happy moments like that make me, and encouraged him to find other ways to reach out to her.
We are, however, still working on the same kindness within the sibling relationship. We’re getting there.