Today I took KK to her weekly ECFE class at the local elementary school. Her class runs for 90 minutes, and at the half-way point we always take a break to wash hands and get ready for snack. The hand-washing break always lands around lunchtime, so we end up walking through a swarm of hungry 4th, 5th, and 6th graders on the way to the restrooms. I normally don't think too much of it- KK is usually telling me some silly story or making some outrageous request! Today was different. Today I noticed something I had never noticed before...
There was a boy sitting at a table all alone, eating the lunch his mom or dad lovingly prepared for him.( I am not one to judge or make assumptions about people, but my heart was telling me he had some sort of disablity-whether that was autism or something completely different, I don't know.) When my eyes shifted over to his table, my heart just sank. Like the Titanic. I didn't feel pity for him, but my heart just broke into pieces for his boy I have never noticed until today. I tried to shake the feeling as KK tugged and pulled me to the sink to wash her hands, and I couldn't, knowing we were about to walk through there again. I hoped that in the 2 minutes that it took to wash hands there would be another kid at the table with that boy, but I knew in my heart that was highly unlikely. Dammit, I was right.
KK was rushing back to the classroom excited to eat her Teddy Grahams and apple juice amongst the company of 7 other kiddos who love to play with her. She really doesn't understand how lucky that makes her. Of course, I don't expect her to understand- she is young and hasn't developed the skills to grasp it.
My hope and intention for her is to be compassionate. To care. To look past differences and embrace everyone for who they are. To not leave a kid at the lunch table alone. Most parents probably have the same hope for their children, but how many of us are parenting with intention? In order for KK to be some or all of those things I just mentioned, I have to be very intentional in my parenting from here on out.
Although I was thinking about KK and everything I mentioned above, most of my thoughts went to R-man. I hope he isn't the boy alone at the lunch table, and if he is, I hope there is a kid who will reach out to him. R-man is in a nice little bubble at school for a couple more years- the kiddos in his class are all dealing with Autism and there is no judgement there. What happens when he is thrown out into the world with kids who don't understand? As a mother, I will never be able to stop worrying about this no matter how much I try. It's hard enough for kids who are "typical" to escape teasing, bullying, and feeling left out. To not be left alone at the lunch table.