Copyright © 2015 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.
I touched on this briefly, yesterday and in the past: the current raft of kids are very different from when their parents were kids. They have grown up with changes in gay rights and have grown up with inclusion. They’ve grown up learning to accept and celebrate differences. My generation – not so much. Kids with disabilities, especially cognitive ones, were either taunted or beatified. The teasing was almost certainly because we could either get a reaction or didn’t have to worry about them fighting back.
It’s weird seeing the generational differences. Today, E and I had a meeting and I was wearing a Bruins sweatshirt that I picked up at an MDSC hockey game. The man we were meeting with asked me if I was a Bruins fan and I explained about Alice. I watched him closely when I said, “Down syndrome” and saw his brow knit in concern and he said, “oh, I’m sorry.” And I do not fault him for his reaction. Though he is an educated man, he is as much a product of his own generation as I am of mine.
This is something that Alice brought home from school. It’s a project that is being done in class. I don’t know any more about it from what you see, but I assume that 7 of her classmates gave her compliments. They could very well have been out of pity, but given this group of kids and how I’ve seen them act, I doubt that very much.
To quote The Who, “the kids are alright.” From my generational perspective, I expect worse. I’m waiting for terrible behavior. I’m waiting for reports from school. I’m waiting for Alice having a horrible day and us left to figure out what happened through forensics. Instead, we consistently get this kind of thing. Part of it is Alice. She is outgoing, trusting, and genuinely likes other people. And her friends get that and reciprocate.