Without Explanation

"Mom, Ben punched me at recess. But it's ok, I think He's in Elias' class."

Vitali was very matter of fact while he told me about the boy that was punching him and his friends at recess. I wasn't sure what he meant by "Elias' class," so I asked a few more questions.

"Was he a big kid or little like Elias?"

"Oh, he was big!"

"Well then he probably wasn't in Elias' class."

Vitali looked confused, and then it hit me: Vitali could tell that Ben had a learning disability. I asked him a few more questions.

"Did he look like Elias?"

"No, he just looked like a kid, but he played like Elias. Ya know mom, like how Elias likes to punch me sometimes, and I say 'No, Elias, now you get a hundred-minute timeout!'" We laughed, and Elias laughed with us.

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I realized that day that I don't have to use words to teach Vitali about people who have a disability. He watches our acceptance and love for Elias and he never questions Elias' place in our family. And because he loves and accepts his brother no matter what, I think we are going to see Vitali love and accept others that are like Elias—no matter what. Even if it means a punch in the gut.

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People ask how I explain to Vitali that Elias has Down syndrome. I tell them I haven't yet. And now I am more confident then ever that I won't have to explain much. The more I love and accept Elias (and others like him) the more Vitali will know how to love.

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And for those of you who have asked me how to explain to your child about someone with a disability...It starts with you. Don't explain, but show your kids how to love and accept someone with a disability. They will copy you, and it will be beautiful.

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© 2014 Natalie Falls