I read something this week, and it broke my heart.
A woman posted on Facebook about how she had sent out over 30 invites to her son's classmates, for his ninth birthday party, and no one showed up. The woman went on to say that when asked where all of his classmates were, her son replied, "Well, they probably won't come because I am different; but that's ok, because when your different, that's what happens."
After no one showed up, the woman called the parent's that had RSVP'd and they told her that their kids weren't going to be around a kid that was different and weird. And that was from parents of second graders. Parents of seven year olds...
The woman's son is not your "normal" nine year old. Due to a rare birth defect that caused the soft spots in his head to fuse before birth, he has the mentality of a four year old, can not read or write, and has blank seizures, all due to several skull expansion surgeries and spinal taps. And he has a scar that runs across his head, because after he was born, his parents decided to utilize a life changing surgery, rather than let him die.
Do you know why this woman's story broke my heart, and has probably broken your's by now, too? Because it's a realization that cruelty, discrimination, and just plain being mean, are all learned. That parents sometimes are just assholes for not teaching their kids to love, to be nice, to include. All this little boy wanted was some of the kids that he spends the majority of his day with, to come celebrate a great day with him. To come have fun and play games, and to wish him happy birthday. But their parents' refused to LET their kids play with the weird kid.
Why? Because his weirdness would have rubbed off on them? Because he was nine years old, and in a class of second graders? I get that maybe the parents didn't know the whole story, but what child actually deserves to be singled out like that? I mean, what made their kids so special? So special that they weren't allowed to show compassion. Did they have to face so many difficulties in life at such a young age? I doubt it.
Kids themselves are innocent. They are a blank slate at birth, and they are taught (let's hope it is indirect teaching) to either be nice or to be mean. They are taught to love, or to bully. They learn from their parents. They are products of their parents.
If you are a parent, I beg of you to teach your child the right way. To teach them kindness. To teach them to include the weird kid. To teach that even though someone is different that doesn't mean that we are rude or mean. To teach them compassion. Because no child deserves to have no one show up to their birthday party.