Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bless a Boy

Recently I shared the story of our One Hit Wonder on the baseball field. Please read the story if you haven't already. (I mean now. Spoiler ahead!)

Read it yet?

Last warning. I'm going to totally spoil it now, and assume you know what I'm talking about.

OK, so after those boys flooded onto the baseball field, the coach said that he didn't think he could have stemmed the tide if he wanted to! Their joyful reaction was sponataneous and sincere. They were simply thrilled for their teammate's success, regardless of the fact that it didn't advance the score one bit. I have to give a lot of credit for this to the coaches' focused efforts to build a loving atmosphere of respect on the team. With just a few weeks of practices and games, just look at what was wrought! It was not just my son who benefitted in that situation, either. Practice in compassion and getting along with different people always reaps benefit, don't you think?

Last month another adult made the news for the way she used her power to shape the minds and character of young people in her charge, only this time they were impressionable kindergarteners... and the power was not used well. Kindergarten teacher Wendy Portillo was frustrated with Alex Barton, a child in her class who was in the process of being diagnosed with autism*. This is what she thought would be helpful: She encouraged each student to tell 5-year-old Alex what they did not like about him, and then led them to "vote" Alex out of class. Not only am I heartbroken for what happened to Alex in this atmosphere, but also for the children in his class. What a horrible lesson has been foisted upon them.

You can read more about Alex at Mommy Life, where Barbara has followed his story. Just search his name in her archives for more. More importantly, though, would you consider taking part in the "Alex is Special" effort she has organized to send love to this child? People from all over the world have showered this boy with cards affirming him. I'm a bit late to the party in spreading the word, but still did not want to neglect the opportunity. Barbara is collecting mail for Alex and forwarding it to him. She has been posting pictures of Alex opening his cards with updates from his mom.

While we're on the topic, think about the environments your children spend time in. What lessons are they learning about how to perceive and treat people who are different from them in ability, appearance or behaviors?

UPDATED TO ADD: Barbara has already sent her last care package to Alex. There will probably be more news of this case, though, as they are taking it to federal court.

* It's not my intent to discuss classroom inclusion here and now, but please do note that this child was only in the process of diagnosis. It does not sound likely that appropriate supports were in place.

1 comment:

Bea said...

That was exactly my response to the story - or at least it was after my nausea subsided.