As I waited at school with Oli after her therapy, a remarkable thing happened. I watched my daughter interact with two little girls in her kindergarten class. Oli isn’t in her kindergarten class regularly. She is in an FLC (functional learning class). She does attend music twice a week with them and has gone on a field trip with their class.
What I witnessed today at her school…will never be forgotten.
To the little girls I watched in the elementary school hallway, this letter is for you.
Dear little girls,
I watched you today as you walked past us. You were lined up with your class on the way to the library. You looked over towards the entrance and stared at Oli, walking in with me. She was holding my hand, shaking her head, flapping her other hand and humming loudly.
I don’t think you were staring at those things though.
You were staring at your friend as she returned to school.
You both ran excitedly up to her calling her name. “Oli! Oli! It’s Oli! Hi Oli! How are you?”
You touched her arm, leaned in close and said hi again. Then each of you took turns hugging my girl.
You talked to her, touched her and hugged her like you were her best friends. Like she belonged with you. Like you never even noticed that she was any different from you.
It seemed like you didn’t notice that she couldn’t share secrets with you, play like other kids or run and jump on the playground.
Those things didn’t matter to you.
You just treated her like she was your friend.
You didn’t see her face light up behind your back as your arms were wrapped tightly around her. You didn’t see the peace in her hands as she gently ran them down your braid. You didn’t see the light radiate from her smile as you talked to her.
You didn’t see the tears well up in my eyes either.
You won’t know how I will forever treasure that moment.
You see girls, when you have a child that is born different from other children, you have certain fears. Certain things that absolutely terrify you. You pray with all of your heart and dream that it will be different and that your fears will not become her reality.
You fear that other kids will be mean to your child. You fear the bullies and the hateful words that can spew from heartless people. You fear that your child won’t have any friends.
You dream that people will understand her. You dream that kids will look past her differences and treat her with compassion and understanding. You dream that your child will never walk the halls, eat lunch or play at recess alone.
As I watched you with Oli today, I saw that everything that I have ever dreamt for her…was standing right before me. It was present in the quiet voices, the gentle touch and the shy smiles that took place between the three of you.
It was present in your friendship.
You’ll never understand what you have done for me today. I don’t even think you’ll understand what you have done for Oli.
I understand though. I know what it means to have children who love her for who she is.
If my daughter grows up around children like you…she will NEVER feel apart from. She will ALWAYS feel a part of.
In your single act of kindness, something that you didn’t even think twice of before acting on, you have erased some of my fears.
I will sleep well tonight, little girls.
I will sleep well knowing that my daughter is not alone and that she has people like you to walk beside her.
From the bottom of my heart…
*tears* Oli has friends.