I should have known what was coming when he scrunched up his nose and the tomato sauce smeared across his cheeks crinkled under his squinted eyes.
“Your face looks weird.”
Yes, I understand that he’s four, but the words still stung like a slap across the face. What hurt worse was the way the parent beside him shushed him, awkwardly chuckled to fill the silence, and then quickly changed the topic, completely ignoring the opportunity for a teachable moment.
I wish I could have shared the story of how God made me special. If I could go back and relive the moment, I would have spoken up and redirected the conversation back to the child’s declarative question.
Moms and Dads, when your child wonders why someone looks different than everyone else, please don’t brush that inquisitive question to the side. Please don’t pretend like our disabilities don’t exist, or even worse, pretend that we aren’t standing or sitting there at all. You don’t have to have that conversation with your child right that very moment, but don’t forget to discuss it later.
Teach your child how to ask someone about their disability or physical difference. I’d much rather answer “Why does your face look different?” than respond to a taunting comment. Children that grow up understanding how to interact with people that are different from them will grow up defending the bullied from the bullies because they will see peoples’ potential rather than divisive differences. Gift people the chance to share about what makes them special.
We’re all people created by God, we just each have our own packaging.