As my family and I took a stroll along the river last Saturday afternoon I noticed this tree. If you look closely you will see that there are small branches sprouting out from the lower trunk. Yet, the branches seem to only be at the top. Was it trimmed this way against its natural growth pattern to look a certain way I wondered? Or was it abnormal growth?
It seems in our society like so many others we all want to fit in. The majority of us do not want to stand out or attract attention for being different from others. We want to be the branches that form that beautiful green top. Most us don’t want to be that new growth that our eyes are drawn to wondering if that is normal or not. So, we dress alike, we drive similar vehicles, we live in similar houses, we talk the same, we walk the same and we feel accepted. But would happen if we did stick out? If we could not control it and circumstances made us stand out in a crowd? What then would we do?
That same day down on the river front my children were able to play on a huge playground. While on the playground a boy with a prosthetic leg climbed onto the spinning equipment with my children and many others we do not know. The boy also had 3 fingers on one hand. The children all stared at his leg. One girl said to him “You only got 3 fingers boy. That is gross!” As I sat in the distance my jaw dropped. The boy responded by holding his hand up to freak her out. He was holding his own, not shocked or hurt by her comment. Then she said “I don’t even want to look at that leg.” I could not believe the cruelty and I watched my four children sit and stare at that girl in dismay obviously not knowing how to react to the situation at hand. Then a little girl walked up and said with great attitude “It doesn’t matter how you look. Don’t judge people!” She said her peace and walked away. The little boy smiled played for a moment longer then hopped down off of the equipment with a smile and joined his dad on a different part of the playground.
As we left the playground I asked my children what they thought of the entire situation. Their reactions varied “I thought his leg was so cool that I couldn’t stop staring at it. I wanted to say your leg is cool but I didn’t know if I should or not.” Another said “Mom, that girl was so mean. Why was she so mean to him?” Another said “I was worried he might get hurt on the playground equipment.” The last one said “Mommy, I didn’t know what to say.” I explained to each of them that they should have said to the boy “Don’t listen to her you can play with us or to say we think your leg is cool. His dad knew he was on that equipment and I am sure he can handle it.” I told them don’t face off with the mean girl but support the kid being picked on.
Most of us don’t want to stand out but want to be a part of the crowd. We all just want to be accepted. But sometimes like the growths of that tree we are abnormal to some but normal to others. We each need to love one another “normal” or “abnormal”.
Copyright 2012 Lori Hadorn-Disselkamp