When I was young my parents had friends, the Reynolds, who were part of a group of friends who all had children at about the same time. But the Reynolds were different, their son, Jason, had suffered severe brain damage and was... well, like Sadie. Jason was about my age, maybe a little older, and being around him as a little kid really effected me. I still remember being curious, but a little afraid. I was kind of a shy kid and got embarrassed easily, so I'm sure I had a lot of questions, but that I didn't ask them. However, when I was about 5 my parents got divorced and we sort of lost touch with a lot of people my parents were friends with as a couple, and I don't have much recollection of being around Jason after about then.
I don't know about you, but I feel like my age group of people didn't really have a lot of interaction with kids with special needs. I remember seeing them at school, but I never had any reason to talk to them, they were always in their own special class, and even though I was curious, I was a little scared of them. I didn't know how to act around kids with disabilities. I didn't know how to talk to them, and their behavior was not something I wasn't used to, so I didn't know how to react to it.
Now that I have my own child with special needs, I want to make sure that kids her age are NOT afraid of her or unsure of how to interact with her.
Today was our second week at a new church, and Sadie's first week in the Sunday School class. I was so appreciative of how they accommodated her and made sure she had what she needed and wasn't in her wheelchair the whole time and got to participate. But, I think the teachers were more appreciative of me bringing her there so that the other kids could be around her.
When I went to pick Sadie up after church, the teachers told me that she liked all the kids and they did really well with her. They told me she liked circle time and had made a little friend named Ben. Ben came out when I was there so that he could say goodbye to Sadie. Then Ben looked at me and asked me how Sadie's brain got broken. I wanted to cry. Not because I was sad, but because to Ben it was that simple, Sadie brain got broken. I told him that Sadie got really sick before she was born and it hurt her brain. The teacher standing there told me that the kids had lots of questions and she didn't know how to answer them, so now she sort of knew what to say. I told her I welcomed questions and wasn't afraid to answer them.
Then I was told that Ben hardly left Sadie's side the whole time, in fact he even pushed her wheelchair back from the bathroom. Then I was told that the teacher caught Ben whisper to Sadie, "when your muscles get stronger, you can come play at my house."
Today the kids learned in Sunday School that everybody needs to hear that Jesus loves them. So, every kid in the class told Sadie that Jesus loves her. Which is exactly what she needs to hear. In this big world that is so unfriendly to children like Sadie, this group of kids understood that Sadie's brain is just broken and that Jesus still loves her. I hope that today was a learning experience for every child in that class today, and I hope that they remember Sadie and that Jesus loves her and she needs to hear that from them.