I Hope Kids Can Be Kind

“He talks like a baby!” The young boy shouted excitedly to his friends.

“Baby, baby, little baby!” The boy was inches from my sons face as he taunted him. His buddies all laughed.

My son, just wanting to be part of the fun and play on the playground with these young boys, innocently smiled back at him. He didn’t realize he was the object of ridicule. He was simply happy that they were including him.

What those boys didn’t know is that just the week before, my son said his first sentence.

“I want to take a bath.”

Yes, his words were all jumbled together and incomprehensible to an outsider. But I heard him. I understood him.

What those boys didn’t know is that my heart leaped out of my chest and I shouted with joy and picked up my 50 pound, five-year-old boy into my arms and twirled him around as he smiled because, he too, was so proud of himself. He smiled his sweet toothy grin where even his big brown eyes smile.

“Say it again!”

“I want to take a bath.”

We repeated the whole shouting and twirling routine once again and then I took a video of him saying it to send to grandma.

You see, those boys don’t know how far my son has come. They have no clue how much we’ve worked on speech. They don’t know that my son struggles to talk and has worked with a speech therapist every single week since he was a baby.

They don’t know that we tried sign language classes and videos unsuccessfully. They don’t know how long it took me to get a speech device for my son and that he used it for one month and then was done with it.

They don’t know about all his medical conditions and that he had six surgeries by the time he reached his first birthday. They don’t know that my son has an unknown syndrome and is nonverbal. They don’t know. But I know that he said his first sentence. And that is a very big deal.

My mommy heart was crushed as the ringleader taunted my son and the others joined in on the fun. Those boys didn’t understand why a kid around their age couldn’t talk.

I wanted to shout out them, I wanted to swear at them, I wanted to scold them for being so cruel. I was seconds away from turning into a crazy mom at the neighborhood playground. 

As the tears slipped down my face behind my sunglasses, I thought through what would be a constructive thing to say to boys who don’t understand what it’s like to not be normal. To not be like them. To not have everything come so easy.

When I knew my voice wouldn’t shake from crying, I calmly walked over and said, “Hey guys, he has a medical condition where he’s never been able to talk. He just wants to play with you. You don’t have to play with him, but he’d really love it if you did.”

Next thing I knew, the boys were playing tag and my son was running behind clumsily like he does and laughing and smiling.

I could hear one boy ask his friend “why doesn’t he talk?”

And the other boy respond, “That lady said he can’t or something.” 

They we’re trying to make sense of something they knew nothing about.

My son didn’t care that he was the slowest and could never catch the others, he joined right in.

The leader of the group still didn’t seem too keen on playing with my son. Every once in a while, he would turn his head and look back at me. I starred right back at him.

You see, my son starts kindergarten next year and I don’t know how I can protect him. He’s been going to a special needs preschool since he was three with kids who are developmentally delayed like him. But how will it work when he’s at recess next year with normal kids who just don’t get it? How will I protect him?

Who will stick up for him when the ringleader of the group gets joy from making fun of my sons’ differences?

I just have to have hope that people are kind and that they teach their kids to be kind. I hope that one brave child can stand up to the ringleader. And I hope my son can teach us all that despite his struggles with talking, walking, eating- pretty much everything- that we can find joy in life.

He just wants to be included in the fun.

Written by, Katie Blakeslee

My son’s name is Hunter and he’s the happiest little boy you will ever meet.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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