Thursday, August 25, 2011

They're Different

Our adjustment to first grade continues.  Teagan loves school.  She's very positive about every aspect of her day- she likes her teacher, what they learn, she can name friends she's made, she likes her special classes and teachers, she is enjoying buying her lunch this week. Teagan misses Mom and Dad.  We've got some things in place to help with that- like wearing a special necklace to help her remember that we love her all the time, no matter what.

The really cool thing is that little bits and pieces of her day are coming out more and more.

At dinner last night, Teagan started to talk about people who are different.

"Mommy, do you know what I like about people?  I like that people are different!"

I agreed with her.  I said that I thought it was really cool that God made us to all be a little bit the same and then lots of ways different.

"Right! Like, some people can talk and some people can't.  Or some kids have autism."

I agreed again- and pointed out examples of other ways people are different and unique.

"Right, Mom! And some kids have brown skin and some have peach skin.  And some talk with their hands. And some have different teeth."

She then went on to tell me about 2 kids that are sometimes in her class.  These are special needs kids.  They don't talk.  They have a special helper who comes to class with them.  One boy has a walker.  Teagan hasn't been able to go over and say hello because the class is always busy with activities when these boys come in. 

Jeff and I go to school on Tuesday evening to learn about the class, to learn from the teacher what the school day is like, and to find out more about the particulars of the school day.  I'm eager to find out the details on these 2 boys who are part of the class.

This is the second time that Teagan has come home and shared her thoughts about these 2 boys.  What I love is that of all the ways she could respond to them, she is listening to the words of the adults in her life.  I know she is repeating things she's heard from me, from church, from her teacher. 

But she could still choose to form her own opinion, to follow the feelings she might be having.  I think it would be just as easy for her to follow the fear of something different, rather than celebrate the beauty of something different.

I also think that's an amazing lesson to learn from our kids.  I hope that I always see the beauty in differences and that I continue to lead my children on that path. 

When I look at the people in my life that I consider to be my friends, that I consider to be the people I know I can turn to for help, support, guidance, or just a shoulder, I see so many differences!  I see different colors of skin and hair and eyes.  I see different childhoods and life experiences.  I see different religious and spiritual beliefs.  I see different politics.  I see people with different interests from my own, different body shapes and sizes, different abilities, different talents.  And I celebrate those differences.

And my daughter is learning to celebrate those differences, too.



Anne Eurose said...

What a great lesson to start learning at such a young age :).

Katherine said...

That is wonderful that she is so accepting. I find that many children, even without trying to be mean, are just intimidated by anything different: people, experiences, places, food... The fact that Teagan is so open at her age is amazing.

Expats Again said...

Mainstreaming special needs children is a blessing to them and to the other students as well. Learning about their obstacles at such a tender age will help them to be more understanding and helpful. The special needs children, in many cases, are able to imitate and have role models from which to learn acceptable behaviors and communication. It's a win win for everyone. Your daughter is very perceptive for such a young age. Bless her.

Garret said...

Wow, we need to get her an Equality sticker for her notebook or backpack! Go Teagan!

Call Me Cate said...

This is the kind of story that gives me hope. Hope that maybe the next generation won't be so kind. I feel like our generation is a bit of a transition when it comes to acceptance. Knowing that you're doing such a lovely job with Teagan, that she recognizes differences but isn't threatened, only interested, makes me think maybe some day we WILL get to that place of equality.

On another note - I'm so happy to hear that she's starting to settle into school! How's the little guy doing with it?

Anonymous said...

That is one reason I loved IPS - the diversity of kids, families, backgrounds, etc was wonderful. I am thankful that my kids never see differences - they just accept. Some of our family's best friends are in wheelchairs, my daughter gets angry when she learns she goes to college in one of the most segregated cities in the US, my son had a "brown Sam and a Blond Sam friend- noticing the color of their hair, not their skin. My brother is gay - and he is the favorite Uncle! Love it when kids see or actually don't see differences!

Nej said...

Her outlook on the differences in people speaks volumes about how you guys raise her. Hats off!!!

C. Beth said...

Love it--what a great attitude! It's so encouraging when you realize your kids are LISTENING to the good stuff you're teaching them!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I love the lessons Teagan is learning about people who are different. I have a friend who was recently in a discussion with her husband over identifying a kid who had brown skin and whether it's okay to describe someone that way. I see people trying so hard to be PC that they don't embrace and celebrate the differences we all share.