The next door neighbors accused her of cutting down their bushes at the age of 5 years old. Another child 2 doors away ostracized her around that same time. Her 1st grade teacher complained about her behavior, insisting on testing. That year she also began wearing boy's clothing because it is more comfortable for her. Combined with her athleticism, you can imagine the names she has been repeatedly called. Her 3rd grade teacher grit her teeth in anger towards our girl as we tried to come up with a positive plan with the entire special education team. Don't even get me started on how she has been mistreated in intermediate school.
It doesn't end with people outside of our family either. I have been estranged from a brother I was close to because his wife makes no secret of the fact that she dislikes my daughter and her behavior. I am treated with disdain as a parent because of things she has worked years to control, all without the help of typical medications. Her severe allergies keep her from many remedies.
The complaining continues with 2 siblings who fail to grasp the challenges she battles with her own executive functioning. Her impulsivity, perseveration, and lacking theory of mind all make contentious situations between them, well, more contentious and ugly.
The fact that there is such bitterness towards one of your kids from other family members surely doesn't soothe the soul when bullying is going on at school either. The demeaning name-calling never seems to end. And our school has done an abysmal job of keeping her physically secure. This year, she received a detention for fighting back when a kid in an unsupervised room harassed her and kicked her in the head. She also received a concussion at recess because of a boy whipping her off of a piece of playground equipment that he wanted to use. Last year it was a group of kids at recess circling around her and another child shouting at them as well as other physical incidents.
The principal's remedy? "Have you thought about getting her some psychotherapy?" He refuses to believe anything she says because of her past history of telling tales. He would rather be expediently dismissive than help a kid with difficulties get to the truth.
So you can imagine my joyful surprise when someone at our ministry's event this past weekend paid her an incredible compliment.
Before we parted company at the end of this adaptive water-ski program, the boat driver delivered my cherished cargo to the dock saying, "Your daughter is great! Such a polite girl, good listener, quick to learn."
People don't slow down long enough to see her -- I mean REALLY see her. Despite her insistence on closely cropped hair, she is a beauty with long fingers and fawn eyes. She is a hard, determined worker, probably better at housework than either of her siblings. Her adventurous spirit and physical prowess make her a force to be reckoned with in any sport or outdoor activity. Few kids love clowning around and from-your-toes laughter the way she does. And her mind for creative problem-solving and mastery of unique facts always leave me in awe. But best of all, her matter-of-fact love of Jesus, unswerving loyalty to His truth, and hope of heaven help me to know that deep rivers run inside her.
Yet, this energetic, kind boat driver, who had lost his own daughter in a tragic accident, invested time in our young girl. He was more than happy to teach her how to water-ski. First, she was afforded the privilege of helping them do a trial run with the sit-ski. Then, while the other kids took turns sit-skiing, this expert took the time to teach our daughter to water-ski off of a boom, then off of a short rope, then ultimately off of the long rope. He provided her with a sensory experience that was right in her wheelhouse. And because he helped her to discover a talent she never knew she had, he got to see some of those incredible pieces of our daughter that all of the "haters" will never get to see.
They say criticism always rings louder than praise. Perhaps that's why it's also thought that humans need 10 positive comments to every negative one. Unkind words tear us apart inside. Even implied disapproval makes us shrink as human beings.
People, be mindful of your words. Always find something affirming to say about another person. God loves and created them, just as He loves and created YOU.
PRAY: Father God, we have value because You give us infinite worth. Help us to treasure that when we hear too few kind words from others. And help us to always treat others as we would want to be treated. Put words of life on our lips to bless in this dark, hateful world.
~ Barb Dittrich