She stands at one foot nothing. Her hair high up on her head, well, I say hair but it’s more like wisps of wild light strands tamed by a tiny hair band that her mother has colour coordinated with her outfit.
It’s heart warming watching how she interacts with her eldest cousin, Ethan.
I have lost count of the amount of children who have been so frightened by Ethans screeches and laughter that they’ve ran off into their mothers open arms.
I know children find Ethan hard to understand and I know he can be loud which can make a little one jump and a parent glance over at us.
I often smile at the parent and help Ethan wave at them, sometimes a parent takes their child over to meet the loud boy but most times they pretend they don’t see us and hush their children away.
I can tell you that, that hurts and only teaches your children that different equals scary.
She is used to her cousin. She is at the age where she watches us all and sees how her aunts, uncles, grandparents and her parents interact with Ethan. She copies the behaviour she sees, like all toddlers, she is always learning.
Her mammy, my sister, brings her to see her three cousins as often as she can. She is the bossiest little person I have ever met.
She demands my youngest son plays with her, but with him being 5, he has little interest in her. She moves on to my middle guy who absolutely adores her.
She can get him to play anything with her for as long as she allows him to.
She is a strong willed little lady who knows her own mind, yet she is so gentle and affectionate.
She toddles into see Ethan. “Hello Ethan, awww hello” Ethan can hear her but cannot see her as her head doesn’t pass the top of his table. He laughs as all he can see is her wisps of hair floating along his table top.
“Ethan laughing” she points and laughs while climbing the chair beside Ethans.
Her mammy always brings treats for the boys, she reaches for Ethans snack which is normally the melt in your mouth ‘Skips’ and places a few on Ethans desk just as her mammy has done each time she visits.
She gently climbs onto his table and takes a ‘Skip’ in her hand, Ethan watches her and laughs when she tells him, “Let me do it, open mouth Ethie, good boy” Ethan opens his mouth as she places half a ‘Skip’ on his tongue, she then reaches for Ethans drink.
She is a pro. Her mammy hands her the drink and guides her little hand as she checks to see that the skip has left Ethans mouth. “Small dink”she offers the straw to Ethan.
He drinks from it. “Aww good boy Ethie” she repeats what she knows we say.
She leans in for a kiss and laughs when Ethan licks her as he gets confused when she tries to kiss him. “Silly billy Ethie” she claps as we all tell her she’s such a good girl.
She gets down and toddles off towards our dog Lola who hopes she has something nice that she’s likely to drop any second now. “No Lola, all mine” she tells Lola as she walks passed her.
It is an amazing thing to witness the kindness, the indifference, the affection and love my little niece shows when spending time with Ethan.
It also drills home to me the fact that children watch the adults around them and really learn from them and their interactions with others.
So, when your child is frightened of children and adults like Ethan and you comfort them and remove them, what is it you are teaching your child? Think about it. Please think about it.
Comforting them is understandable, removing them is a little harder for me personally to understand.
You’ve a chance once your child is calmer, to explain how we are all different and how some of us screech when excited or whatever the case may be.
It would be nice and a bit braver on your behalf, to bring your child over to meet the person they were frightened of, simply to show them that they are human too and just a little different.
Parents like me, should never hush you away for trying to make human connections.
We do understand that a child who has no experience with people who are different from them might stare, it is the parents reaction we watch for, not the child‘s.
We all should embrace differences and let little children know that fear of the unknown is understandable but by just spending a few minutes talking with Ethan and those who appear so different from them, can indeed make us all realise how alike we truly are.