Whoever made up the old nursery rhyme, "Sticks and Stones can Break my Bones, but Names willÂ Never Hurt Me." Â must have never been bullied. He must have never had a hurtful word thrown at him. He must have lived in a box all by himself!
Years ago when Tim was about five-years-old, his older brother, Arron (nine years old at the time) was playing outside in the front yard with his friend Justin. Tim thought his brother hung the moon (still thinks that now ) and so, he wanted to go outside in the front yard to play ball with his brother. Just like any other little boy, Tim wanted to do the things that his older brother got to do. He, of course, couldn't do the things his older brother did. Not because he had mosaic Down syndrome, but because he was five-years-old and his brother was nine!
So, I followed Tim outside to keep an eye on him while he played and as we walked outside another boy, about Arron's age, walked up to ask if he could play ball with them. Happy to have another boy to play with, Arron and Justin smiled and were about to agree that he could play. However, at this same time, Tim and I walked into the yard. The boy looked at Tim and immediately said, "What's wrong with your brother? He looks Retarded."
Now, in some circumstances, this could have been chalked up to child curiosity. And, I think that if that had been the case, Arron and Justin would not have reacted in the way that they did. However, this boy's tone was not in a curious tone. He was saying it with disgust and hatred. At nine-years-old, somehow, this boy had already lost his compassion for others. In his short time on this earth, he had learned that those who are different from him should not be accepted. They should be avoided and hated. Although, I am sure at his young age he didn't know why this was so. But, perhaps his parents had used this word in front of him or they spoke of Â hateful things around him.Â
Whatever the reason, this boy learned a valuable lesson that day. I would never condoneÂ violence of any kind what-so-ever and have always taught my children to use their words instead of their fists. So, when ArronÂ and Justin both took off chasing this boy down the road screaming at him for his hateful words, I didÂ sincerely hope that they did not catch him! Finally, when Arron and Justin returned from their marathon run, I hugged them both and told themÂ how very proud I was of them.Â Both of them, at the young age of nine, totally "got" it! They knew that the "R" word was wrong. They knew it was hurtful. They knew it was an insult. They knew that in a few years, Tim would be hurt if he heard it said to him. So, in their young years, they reacted in a way to tell this boy that using this word was unacceptable.
They didn't catch him. They let him go. I often wonder about that boy who is now a young man. I wonder how his life is and if he still uses this hateful word? I would like to think that on that sunny afternoon, after catching his breath from such a fast run, he reconsidered his words and how much words can hurt.
I would like to share this video with you. Many may have seen it before, many may have just read it in email. However, even if you have, it is always worth watching again! It is long, so get a drink and sit down and listen. THIS is the message we are all trying to send!