The other night at swim practice, I was sitting at the tables at the far end of the pool doing some work on my laptop, and Number 6 (who isn’t on the swim team) was sitting across from me playing Minecraft on my iPad.
The swim team uses half the pool for practice, and the rest of the pool is open to the community. Depending on the day there are swim lessons going on, aquasize classes, and diving practice. But there is always open swim, and people of all ages take advantage of that.
After about a half hour, a little boy who was probably about the same age as Number 6 (7 years old) noticed he was playing Minecraft from afar, climbed out of the pool, and walked over to our table.
He struck up a conversation with Number 6 who looked at me like Mom, who the heck is this kid? He wasn’t quite sure what to make of him.
Number 6 gave me a look, and I told him the little boy probably loved Minecraft as much as he did and just wanted to see what he was doing.
A few minutes later, the little boy said goodbye and hopped back into the pool.
“He was cute,” Number 6 said to me, and he went back to playing Minecraft.
About a half hour after that exchange, another person climbed out of the pool and walked over to our table.
He was an adult with Down syndrome, and he went right over to Number 6 and asked him what time the pool closed.
Number 6 couldn’t decipher what he had asked him. Since he was kind of taken aback by our first seven-year-old visitor, I wasn’t sure how he would react this time around since our second visitor wasn’t so good about personal space boundaries and he was really difficult to understand.
“I don’t know what time the pool closes,” I told the man. “We probably need to ask the lifeguard.”
I watched Number 6’s reactions.
Because as much as I think I have modeled acceptance of all people of all colors and all sizes and all abilities and all genders and all sexual orientations, I sometimes worry.
I want my kids to be the kids who don’t see disabilities or differences or unique physical characteristics and who just see people.
People who are all different and unique and special.
Cause that’s what we all are.
So our second visitor stayed at the table for few minutes. He asked us some more questions. And then he turned around and kind of abruptly walked away and that was the end of our conversation.
As he was walking away, Number 6 watched him go.
I waited for him to ask Why did he talk like that? or Why did he look like that? or something along those lines that a little kid will so often say when they see someone who doesn’t look or talk or act just like they do.
And Number 6 looked at me and said…
“He was nice!”
And then he went right back to playing Minecraft.
So I guess some of the really important lessons are getting through after all.