Her preschool bus was a “short” bus, but that was different because every preschooler rode it. When the short bus came to get her on her first day of Kindergarten, it was another story. She was disappointed because she thought she was going to ride the “big” bus with her siblings. Her disappointment, in turn, triggered worry in me.
We live in a culture that is way more focused on the outward stuff than the inward. I am a product of my culture. I make snap judgments of people based on their looks. Sometimes I want to become friends with someone (or not) based solely on how high I perceive their coolness factor to be. Thankfully Jesus, who is not at all like this, is teaching me to be more like him, but looking past the outward does not always come naturally. So the worries come when I think of my daughter and her very outward special need interacting with kids who are also a product of our culture.
When I look at Suhn, I see her special needs. They are hard to ignore. I am constantly reminded of them when I put on her braces; see her walking or trip over her walker. I see them, but I have no problem looking past them. She is not a SPECIAL NEEDS child; she is a CHILD with special needs.
When her ride on the short bus first came up, I didn’t question it. My brain doesn’t work like that. I accepted the fact that she needed help on and off the bus, and that it would be more difficult for a traditional bus to cater to that need. But, when she had her first ride on the short bus, my brain started working. I questioned the decision and the potential stigma it might create.
I still question it, but the reality is it’s not about the bus. Not really. There have been times in the past when a child has made a comment about Suhn that could be hurtful. Thankfully, Suhn has been largely unaware of these types of comments, but I know the day is coming when that kind of talk or attitude will be heard and will hurt. The older she gets the more aware she will become and the more aware her peers will become. I think the start of Kindergarten and her mode of transportation made that day feel closer.
It also brought up questions. When kids see her on the playground at recess will they ignore her because she can’t keep up? She doesn’t have a lot of choice where she sits at lunch, will others seek her out or leave her alone?
We try to be proactive when the questions come. We talk to Suhn about her gift of friendliness and how she can use it. We talk about how if new-to-her kids sit by her at lunch, it is an opportunity to make a new friend and encourage her to look for kids at recess who might need a friend to play with.
Most days, it is easy to keep the worries at bay. Especially when my excited giggly girl gets off the bus telling me all about her day from the moment she lays eyes on me.
But like all moms know, those fears are still there even if they lay dormant for awhile. I don’t want her to get hurt. Especially over something like how she gets around. It’s such a little difference.
So when the worry creeps in, I am trying to use it as a trigger to pray. To pray for kids who can look past the outward. To pray she will develop strong friendships with those who do. To pray she will use her gift of friendliness to glorify her Creator (she already does!) And to pray that if the hurt does happen, it will not tear her down but will instead build character and strength in both of us.