So, we're at the library and the kids are looking at the giant doll house, searching for whatever the latest additions are to it. A child and his mom walk by and I heard him say (rather loudly), "Mom, did you see that baby? It's freaky looking." Mom whispered something in his ear and tried to rush him along and he said even louder, "But it is kinda freaky."
Unfortunately that is where it ended. I've learned in other circumstances that it is best to have a conversation. Differences aren't so "freaky", weird or scary once we know a little bit about them, and more importantly, once we know about the person. It made no difference to Titus that day. Thankfully he doesn't understand much English yet. But I would have loved to talk to the little boy and given him a gentle education about children and people with differences, and laughed with the mom in comraderie because MY kids have said some pretty insensitive things sometimes too!
A friend asked recently if I would share the best ways to talk about differences so she could prepare her kids. One basic guideline is to think about the words we use. Judgments like "scary", "weird", and "freaky" can be replaced with true observations like "Oh, his ear is small." or "His arm is different." That opens conversation without making judgments or hurting feelings.
For those of you in our circles, I want to give you the opportunity to learn a bit, and more importantly to help your children learn, about Titus and his differences. I've made it easy for you! This way we can avoid embarrassing scenarios and awkward apologies and our kids can learn to say, "I like your baby. Can you tell me about his differences", or even, "Can I play with him?" and we can all have a better conversation.
Hey Kids! We're going to have a new friend at (church, AWANA, CC, in our neighborhood)! This is Titus. He's E, K, & Z's new brother from China.
Titus is a little different than most kids you know, so I want to tell you about him before you meet him so that you feel comfortable, OK?
First, Titus just came home from China, so he doesn't really understand English well, and he doesn't speak it. He also has a hard time saying much because of a hole in the back of his mouth that needs to be fixed. So if you say "hello" to him, he won't say it back, but he smiles really well and gives great high fives!
When he gives you a high five, he'll do it with his left hand, because his right hand is different than most kids'. If you look at it now in the picture you might not feel like you need to stare at it when you meet him.
His arm was that way even before he was born. It doesn't hurt him. He can still hold things...
and build with blocks...
and do most things that other kids can do. You don't need to treat him differently because of it.
Titus also has one ear that is smaller and different from his other ear. The outside of his ear looks different, but inside it is the same as yours. and he can hear.
No one's face is exactly the same on both sides, but sometimes one side of Titus' face looks really different from the other, like when he smiles or cries. It might sometimes seem like he is making a funny face, but he isn't trying to. His muscles don't work the same on both sides. But he is REALLY cute!
Titus is three and a half years old, but he acts more like a one year-old most of the time. That is because before he was adopted he never left his bedroom in the orphanage. He never went to a library, a park, a zoo, or the other places you go to that help you learn to be a big kid. He also never played with bigger kids. Most of his friends were babies so he didn't see how many big kids act. He also looks more like a one or two year old because he didn't always have the good food to help him grow strong. You don't need to make a big deal about his age. Just enjoy him the way he is!
Another thing you need to know about Titus is that he didn't have a mommy or a daddy for more than three years. So sometimes he doesn't know how to behave the way your mom and dad have taught you. Please be patient with him while he is learning right from wrong.
Titus does have a mommy and daddy now, and a whole family that love him!
And even though there are some different things about him, he is a lot like other kids too. He loves to play and swim. He likes balls, blocks, and slides, and he really loves to hum and dance!
He is a really fun kid and I hope you can be good friends!
Speaking of good friends, if you've read through this, with or without your kids, you ARE one! Thank you so much for being intentional in your love for our family.