Friday, January 23, 2009

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

The other day, Little Miss Lauren had a playdate. Now, you know how I feel about Playdates, but at the urging of my dear Husband (who is convinced that Lauren will grow up socially inept and ostracized from her group of friends outside of school if she does not start hosting said "dates") I agreed to let her have a friend over.

She chose a little girl who is well behaved, from a nice family - okay, playdate set. Little guest girl arrives at our house and the girls run into Lauren's room to play. This leaves Collette wandering around the house like a lost soul, not really seeming to want to do anything in particular. Well, having been out of practice with the playdate thing, I should have realized that if you're going to do this, dual playdates are definitely the way to go.

Feeling bad for Collette, I offer to play with her... anything she wants - no takers, she'd rather just watch the girls play. Collette tries to join them but little guest girl runs away - I presume they're playing so I don't think much of it. A little later on, I overhear Lauren asking little guest girl why she doesn't want to play with Collette - little guest girls replies "Because she's weird"... I am astounded, I expected more from this child. Lauren tries to explain that "Everybody is different, you know" but little guest girl isn't buying.

Living with a special kiddo every day makes you kind of immune to such things - you not only don't think much of it when you run into another kiddo who most would think acts "weird", but most of the time you don't even notice unless it's totally over the top. But for a child who is brought up in a religious home who attends a Parochial school where friendship and love for others is part of the curriculum to declare someone (especially a friend's sibling) "weird" was just so astounding to me. The little girl knew as soon as she said it that it was unacceptable as she didn't want Lauren to repeat it to me (little did she know I had already heard).

Parents need to teach their children tolerance of children who may not be the same as they are - be it color, religion, ethnicity, appearance or just being "different". Girl Scouts have a program called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" which teaches about not only the differences of others, but the similarities by learning about physical, cognitive and learning disabilities. I think that something similar should be taught to all children, whether it's through a program like Girl/Boy Scouts, at school, at church and certainly at home.

I am very proud of Little Miss Lauren for standing up for her Sister. She has learned to be fairly oblivious to such differences and treat everyone the same - but it's a lesson she cannot single handedly teach her friends. I guess the only way she'll be able to do it is to demonstrate the right way to act.

... And you wonder why I avoid playdates...

Posted by Liz of Pink Lemonade

Featured Weekly on Posh Mama Online Magazine


laneerg said...

I'm so sorry that that little girl made such a thoughtless remark. Good for your daughter for standing up for her sister - that shows she's had a good example to live up to.

-Shaken, not stirred said...

I'm suprised only one other person has commented on this!

Good for your little girl for standing up for her sister.

My daughter is only 16 months old, but I fear the day that someone ever says something seemingly "mean" about her. I know it'll happen - but I dread that day.

I agree with you - where are the parents on this? I mean come on!

Lisa said...

Although I agree the little girl's comment was thoughtless, that's all it was. It's not necessarily indicative of her parents' attitudes or her school's curriculum. Children learn to accept others who are different by being around them. They aren't always naturally accepting. It has to be learned. So, have the little girl over again and teach her about how differences can be a blessing.

Boutique Flair * Krista said...

Go Lauren! What a great little sis. I am seeing the same tolerance with Lily's brother.

I'd like to spank a good many ignorant adults that gawk or ask why my daughter doesn't talk or why her face is chubby & she doesn't look quite like us... It just reminds me that tolerance starts young and teaching people to be accepting of others starts from the very beginning.

Thanks for sharing that. My skin still isn't quite as thick as yours, but we're getting there. I guess once you deal with X amount of looks or comments you have no choice but to be above it and not let it bother you or even register.

What a nice girl Lauren is growing up to be already. Hopefully she can rub off on her classmate :P

LifeNStuffUSA said...

How sweet of her at 7 and it speaks volumes as to the wonderful job you have done and how much she loves her sister. I found that my kids questioned the behavior of some special needs kids at school in stories they would share. My kids always seemed so concerned about trying to help the kids by saying "This isn't scary. This is okay." not understanding it was more of a sensory problem....I talked to one of the teachers at one point and shared that my kids always seemed so concerned and asked her what she had shared with the rest of the class about the circumstances.....nothing! There is a large lack of exposure in independent lives, but in a combined's the perfect place to help learning about compassion, empathy, etc. occur IMO.