A story shared with Love What Matters by San Diego mom Madeline Schmidt about her 6-year-old son Grant's kindergarten encounter with a first grade boy named Tucker is going viral for the best reasons: It illustrates the power of friendships, especially among children.
Schmidt reveals how careless remarks and questions — not just from kids, but adults — have made her son more cognitive of the fact that his birthmark makes him seem "different" to other people.
"He isn't bothered by what (the birthmark) looks like ... his pain comes from strangers constantly asking him 'what happened to his face' or 'what's wrong with his face.' etc." Schmidt writes on Facebook. "He has his canned response 'It's just a birthmark' that he used to say very matter-of-factly, but lately he's been saying it in an exhausted manner because he's just tired of having to explain it to everyone he comes in contact with, and people saying things that maybe they don't realize, but are incredibly hurtful (like a medical tech at the doctor's office who after Grant said it was a birthmark, said 'Oh, I thought you got punched in the face.' "
But a thoughtful comment from another boy helped Grant start seeing himself in a different light.
"This past school year, during class," Schmidt writes of the encounter, "he got a bathroom pass and went to the bathroom. A kid who he's never met before was in there and per usual, asked what happened to his face. Grant did his usual response. But this kid did something different. He then said, 'well, your birthmark is really cool.' And then asked Grant if he gets hurt feelings from people asking about it or making fun of it. Grant said, yes, he does. The kid then looked at him and said, 'Stick up for yourself, kid.'
In his book No Man Is An Island, the Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote this of friendships: "The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image."
That is exactly what this boy brought to Grant. Read Schmidt's post in its entirety here:
The story has others talking about their experiences of growing up with similar birthmarks or having kids with the same.
We might all try to be a little more like Tucker.
"With all the challenges in dealing with mean kids that hurt others feelings, wow, does this kid give me hope."
Indeed he does.
(H/T: Love What Matters)