Isla and I were walking to school. There was a student who stopped to walk with us down the hill to school. Isla felt uncomfortable with this so increased her pace with her assistance dog and started walking ahead.
I struck up a conversation with this young lady and started making small talk asking her about school. "What year are you in?" I asked, "What are your plans for Secondary School?". Presuming she had an interest in Isla and her dog I asked, "So do you know much about Room 29 at school" (aka as the satellite class)? At first she was puzzled and then said "Oh yes that's the class with the weird kids".
My heart sank.
"They aren't weird they are were just born a bit different" I replied. I was scrambling to provide a teachable moment. "It could be your brother or sister". "All the kiddies have different qualities" I went on. "They can be funny and have the kindest hearts". "Isla is so sweet", she replied. "I can see that and I always feel bad when the other kids make fun of them" she said.
My heart sank further.
We were then at the school gate and I was happy to get away as I really didn't want to hear anything more. I was also left with so much I wanted to say. I wondered if I had said the right things to defend our kids. Did I change this student's view of the "weird" kids at school?
Should I have insisted she stand up and question those fellow students when they said nasty comments about Isla and her classmates? Should I have given her some different word options other than "weird"! "And if so, what?".
This truly came from the mouth of babes. Of course I am naive to think this doesn't happen to some degree at school. I often see it from the look on kids’ faces without them having to say anything at all. I am just grateful it all goes over Isla's head. My sweet girl who thinks she's unique and special and not weird at all.