A few weeks ago, we spent Shabbat with friends who also have a child with Down syndrome. At the end of Shabbat Caily looked at this child who is a few years older than her and said “You have a funny face!” We all cracked up at the irony of the situation and I wanted to ask Caily “have you looked in the mirror recently? – You may see a similar “funny” face.”
We recently had a few situations that made me think about what we teach our kids. Caily was squabbling with another child on Shabbat as they both wanted the baby stroller. The other child started squealing and her mother rushed to the rescue and immediately said “It’s not you, Darling, it’s her” – imagine the learning opportunity if the mom had taken the time to explained to her child that some children have challenges or taught the kid strategies to share instead. The next day I was out with Caily and a young teenage girl could not stop staring at her. Usually I stare right back at people and that’s enough to get them to avert their eyes. Not this child – she just kept staring brazenly. I eventually had to ask her what she was staring at to make her stop.
Perhaps we should all look in the mirror from time to time and note our own imperfections. As moms we also need to know how our kids behave is a direct reflection of our teachings and the explicit or implicit signals that we project in our day to day interactions.
We go to great lengths to provide our children with the best possible education and after-school activities. And yet, sometimes, the most powerful educational tools are the subtle messaging we teach our children through our own actions and attitudes.
Originally published: December 1, 2014
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