Over the past four years my daughter has taught me many lessons. Today was another lesson learned. You always hear adults saying that children are so mean. They say things they shouldn't, tease one another, become bullies. I think we could not be more wrong. Do kids magically come up with prejudices? An idea of what's "weird"? Do they instinctively know someone is doing something they should make fun of? I would say no. I would say WE are so mean.
Today I took Reagan for her four-year-old physical. In the waiting room there was a little boy that came over and started playing in the same area she was. Reagan said, "Hi! My name is Reagan. What's your name?"
The little boy didn't say anything. After a minute he started grunting and making noises, but not talking. He started gesturing at his shirt. It was obvious that he was on the Autism spectrum and not able to communicate well through speaking. Reagan has never been around many kids that have trouble communicating and has no idea what Autism is. I immediately thought, "Please don't say anything wrong, Reagan. Please don't freak out."
You know what Reagan did? She said, "Angry Birds? I like Angry Birds too!" She then proceeded to play with him and continued to talk to him until they were called back for their appointment. When he yelled out or got a little rough she just raised her eyebrows and giggled. She looked at me to make sure everything was fine and, after a smile from me, kept right on playing.
After they left she never said anything about it. She didn't make fun of him or say he was weird. She didn't tease him when he tried to communicate with her. She just kept treating him like she treats everyone else.
Kids get a bad wrap. They aren't inherently mean, they are just outspoken. They say exactly what is on their mind. You know where I think they get these mean ideas? From us. Grown ups are the ones that teach children prejudices. They see how we react to others. They hear the things we whisper behind other's backs. They learn to tease and bully from us. WE are the problem!
Jesus knew what He was talking about. When the disciples were concerned with who was the best, this happened.
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-4
And again, in chapter 19 of Matthew children were brought to Jesus so He could pray for them and the disciples tried to turn them away.
But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14
Children have such pure hearts. We are the ones that ruin that. Be careful of what you are teaching the precious little ones around you. Be careful of the things you think and say. We are shaping the way they think. Reagan definitely reminded me of that today.
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