This week is a week that goes down in the memory book. There have been so many lessons learned. Moments that at the time seemed very typical but as they flow through the heart and are tossed around in my thoughts they become very profound. It is crazy how little conversations turn into huge learning opportunities.
I started this summer conflicted in many ways. These feelings are extremely frustrating. When you are so passionate about something but can’t really verbalize to yourself, or anyone else for that matter, exactly how you feel it is overwhelming. Does that even make sense? Well that is where I started this summer, right smack in the middle of conflict.
I can not say I have completely ironed everything out but at least I have turned the corner to a path that I feel comfortable walking on. Hence the meaning behind this post! I have a pretty awesome friend embarking on some exciting new adventures. Adventures that will not only nurture her heart but nurture and foster the integration of a community that is very near and dear to me. Part of this whole journey for my friend is learning and growing in her own acceptance of others so that she can teach and foster that in her family. In fact just last week as I signed Grace up for the Infantino “Everybody Plays” advertising campaign they asked a question. How do you encourage acceptance of others in your own family? The question really struck a cord with me. How do I foster that? How do we as parents instill that in our families. I am talking about that important concept that everyone is a real live person just like ourselves and we then recognize that everyones story is different. Struggles can be harder for some, but at the end of the night we all go to bed wanting the same thing. love.peace.happiness and friendship
I am starting to feel like acceptance is a word I use too often. Do I want acceptance? Yes! I most certainly do, but more then anything I want integration. I want the same opportunities presented to all people. I understand that not everyone can do everything. I haven’t won a marathon but I sure enjoyed running one and I am thankful that the opportunity was there. So when asked the question, “How do I explain to my children your child who has a disability?” I respond, “Tell them she is a child, just like your child”, because she is. She is just that. She is a little girl that is 3 and a half years old who loves baby dolls, chasing her brothers and making lunch in her perfect little red kitchen. Kids are kids….they just are. People are people…..there is no denying that. Everyone struggles in different areas of their life it is part of human nature.
My hope is that we can all focus on how we are more the same then different. Explaining and relating my childs struggles to your own struggles in life makes the whole situation more comfortable instead of scary.
I feel like I have gotten in my own way over the past couple years explaining the differences instead of focusing on how much we are alike. These conversations are so important….they are the seeds to the future of all our children. So when your child asks the question, “Mommy, what is wrong with her?” Feel free to tell them nothing at all. Proceed to tell them her name is Grace and she loves to color, eat warm chocolate chip cookies and play with her friends. If they ask a specific question like “why can’t I understand her?” Make sure you tell your child that she struggles to get the words out clearly. Then explain that we are all born with things we are good at and other things that we are not. Speaking for Grace is a challenge right now but she is working hard to improve her words every day. I promise to communicate the same type of information if your child is struggling.
The conversation is as simple as that. Give them the information they want and need at that moment. The rest is not important because it is unknown. No one can tell you right now who Grace will grow up to be. No one has any idea what her dreams and aspirations will be in high school. No one knows if as an adult she will live happily with her husband or at home with her Dad and I. We can not predict if she will have her own job, car and social life but we can for sure expect these things. We expect them of all our children and some children succeed and others are not as successful. Please don’t think that because our child was born with a disability that we have given up on her future, because that is the furthest from the truth. We are working diligently every day to over come the set backs that she was born with.
My hope is that these types of conversations will help open hearts and minds to allow friendship to blossom. I will continue to do my part. I hope to do less segregating and more integrating. I have been loving the feedback and the participation in the “Kids are Kids” campaign this year for 5 boys + 1 girl = 6 Photography and Changing the Face of Beauty. It validates that all children love to shine and together they make beautiful pictures. Vendors continue to be so receptive to including everyone together and that is what it is all about. I fully believe that our job as parents is important. Our children mirror the way we treat and respect others but advertising has an even larger impact.
So put down your own personal fears of difference, we all have them. Make sure to teach your kids and answer their questions. Then encourage love.peace.happiness and most importantly friendship.
The Latest vendor participating in the “Kids and Kids” campaign is Sweet Petunia Clothing they too see the importance of including everyone in their advertising. We are happy to have them! – to see more of the images from this session feel free to check out 5 boys + 1 girl = 6 on Facebook!
If you are a vendor or an advertiser and would like help integrating all children into your advertising campaigns we would love to help you! Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Hump Day!