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Acceptance, in 100% Cotton

June 14, 2010

One day about a year ago, The Diamond (kinda rhymes with my 4-year-old’s actual name), wanted to wear a T-shirt belonging to The Buddha (rhymes with my 7-year-old’s actual name). Usually, this is no big deal. Their wardrobes are pretty interchangeable (see previous post on how often they’re mistaken for twins), but this caught me off guard.

The shirt in question was a Field Day T-shirt from The Buddha’s new school … The Buddha’s special education school. Wow, did my biases ever smack me in the forehead. Hard. It wasn’t pretty. Downright ugly, actually.

Let me emphasize that I had never had any trouble singing the praises of this wonderful school that serves children with significant learning challenges. It’s the right place for my older son for so many reasons. Whenever anyone asks where he goes to school, there’s no hesitation in my reply. My husband and I have always actively encouraged our son’s sense of school pride.

And, yet, I’m ashamed to say, the first sight of that shirt on my then 3-year-old younger son gave me pause. We were about to go out in public, and my initial thought was that I didn’t want people thinking that my bright, social, “typically developing” little guy went to a special school.

So, in a voice dripping with cutesy curiosity, I asked the Diamond why he wanted to wear his brother’s shirt. He surprised me by insisting that it was, in fact, his shirt. And he was so proud and excited to be wearing a shirt from his older brother’s school.

Wow. What a lesson from my oh-so-wise little guy. No angst, all acceptance. Of course, he kept the shirt on.

Fast forward.

Last Friday, we all went to The Buddha’s end-of-the-year school picnic at a popular park. When I grabbed clothes for the boys to wear that day, the first two T-shirts I came across were his two Kingsbury Field Day t-shirts, a new one from this year and that same T-shirt from last year. Without hesitation, I tossed them to the boys, along with their shorts and clean undies.

There was nothing artificial about about this small thread of acceptance. The label said 100% cotton.

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