Early on in elementary school, Isabel came home with stories about the new cast of characters in her life. Kelson and Jenna and Bjorn and Rebe and Sam. Games they’d play at recess. Jokes they told at lunchtime. Who chose her as a partner in gym class.
I noticed that many of the stories she told were about her new friend Sam. When their classroom was assigned a student teacher, Isabel reported that Sam initiated the practice of giving the young woman hugs at the end of the day. “Now we all hug her when we leave,” she reported. Another time, she told me that she’d failed a task in P.E. and was “really sad and mad,” but felt better when Sam told her it didn’t matter and gave her one of his hugs.
“He gives me joy,” she said.
When I finally met the famous Sam, I noticed his playful smile and the easy way he and Isabel related with each other. I also noticed that he had Down syndrome. That it was not the first thing she told me when describing her friend, but that Isabel never even considered this a fact worth mentioning was compelling to me.
... Over the past few years, I’ve loved watching Isabel and Sam’s friendship grow. Sam lives near to Isabel’s best friend and the three of them play together in the summer on Sam’s trampoline or at the park across the street from his house. Once, years ago, Sam’s parents took Isabel and me aside and thanked my daughter for being kind to Sam. Isabel was puzzled and later remarked, “I don’t know why they’d thank me.”
“Well, because he’s different. Do you see ways he’s different than your other friends?”
“He’s shorter,” she said with a shrug. “And he wears glasses. And he’s never says mean things about other people.”Read the whole piece here.
And happy birthday to my Dad!
Thank you for blessing me and always reminding me of my inherent dignity.