“Hey big ears! Those are a real good ears you got there! So BIG!!!”
I think I just died. And then, I look over my shoulder at my 9 year old son tormenting an elderly man because his ears are a tad on the large size in a very crowded milk fridge of the Superstore on a busy Saturday afternoon with his three brothers in tow and I just wonder why I was silly enough to venture out feeling brave and optimistic that I can do it all alone!
I quickly snatch my ASD kid by the jacket sleeve and pull him close.
“That is not very nice! How do you feel when some makes fun of you? That man has no control over the size of his ears, which are perfectly fine by the way, but you do have control over how you treat others!”
Lincoln looks at me and says “but they are HUGE!”
I stare helpless at the man, and hope he really isn’t listening. He seems to be caught up in the milk and not listening to me.
“Lincoln! It is not nice to point out things about people like that. It can make them feel sad. DO you like to feel sad?”
“I’m sad when you won’t let me use technology!”
“That is different. Be nice to people. Remember to make them feel happy, because you like to be happy…they do too. No one wants to feel sad because you are making fun of them not for who they are but how they look.”
All my children are at this point standing around listening, and I see across their faces they are thinking.
I straighten up, close my eyes and take a deep breath and regroup silently.
Lincoln turns and looks again at the man but this time says nothing.
I smile to myself and herd my group to the frozen foods and pray that they learn to do unto others. One of the best things you can be is open and accepting in life. I want all my children to know that we are people, with feeling hearts and thought-filled minds. We all want to be accepted, we want to be appreciated, we want to be allowed to be us without labels and stereotypes or to be judged or ridiculed.
For as much as I worry that my son will be teased and bullied it hurts me more to think he could be a bully himself. It would break my heart for my kids to be piteous and cruel.
“Treat others as you wish to be treated” I repeat as I buckle my little one into his seats and kiss his nose softly.
“yeah, cause no one likes to be sad” Lincoln chimes in.
I smile to myself as I shut the van door and walk to my door.