And I am not talking about mine here.
Since John's recent surgery, I have been blown away by the quality of character I have seen in the little people in our lives. John has some super friends. They have handled John's surgery and recovery with a grace that I could have never expected.
I was concerned that seeing John swollen would be frightening for them. I was concerned that John's differing appearance would be so foreign that they would be nervous or uncomfortable around John. I was so concerned that I nearly canceled a visit, because I didn't want John to be upset. In truth, I didn't want to become upset myself when John's friends were frightened or uncomfortable. Boy did I have a lot to learn from a bunch of four year olds.
These little people were in our lives for the first vault at 17 months, but they were so young they didn't think about or react to the changes. My how they have grown. I never realized how much concern and compassion a four year old could possess. Josh, Luke, Ava, John, Thatcher, William, Katie, Mollie, Kai, they all love John and they talked with their amazing parents about what was going on with him. They knew this was a big deal...they were worried. They prayed, they made cards, they drew pictures. When they first saw John, they looked at him with such sincere concern, as I, at 35 years of age, would look at a friend who had been through some significant trauma. And as soon as they realized John could see, and John was John, they were good to go. They didn't make a big deal out of his swelling, of his new look, they moved on...they knew by his silly grin, that their pal John was OK. They knew, in their own way, that John had been through something remarkable and they were proud of him. Then they quickly ran off and played Star Wars, cars and Batman, just like they had in the weeks before.
All of us know, the worry. The worry we all possess with regards to teasing, bullying, rejection, exclusion. The heartache associated with this is the number one thing that others who have walked this path before us all agree upon. I know it is coming. All the experts talk about it. We plan surgeries around it. We are trying our best to prepare for it. Trying to develop thick skins, and build confidence in our little boy.
I wonder how these children, that we adore, will feel about John in four more years. Maybe I am naive, but I know these parents, I know these kids and I have great confidence that "knowing" John will make a difference in their attitudes towards all others with differences. One thing I know for certain, we will bask in the love that is being showered upon our little boy right now. And we will hope that these memories will carry us through the more difficult moments we face as we go forward.
Oh, and wouldn't it be great if we could all hold onto the social compassion of four year olds?