She is offering up ‘Spa Services’- clutching a mesh bag full of nail polishes and another stuffed with makeup, eager to find someone – anyone – who will surrender her fingernails or face to her. Bless their hearts, they both say yes. Oh, how I adore my friends. She sets up shop and goes to work.
While she works, we talk about our children. We talk about their struggles and we talk about their gifts. We talk about the obstacles they’ve overcome and share strategies we’ve used to help them.
Katie motions for Mom-NOS to dunk her hand into the water bowl she’s set up for soaking.
We talk about how proud we are of these amazing children. We talk about their uniqueness. Their very THEMness. We talk about what they CAN do. We talk about what they DO do. We talk about how they have changed us. We talk about the incredible people that they are turning out to be.
Mom-NOS tells Katie about a game that Bud plays in school every morning. How he spells his name for the class – B-U-D! – and the class responds by saying his name – Bud! – and he then says, “That’s me!”
Katie asks questions. How old is Bud? He’s eleven. What grade is he in? Fifth. She decides immediately that she’d like to meet him. He sounds like fun. She’d like to play the B-U-D game with him.
As Mom-NOS is getting ready to head home (and I’m getting ready to grab onto her ankles and beg her to never, ever leave), Katie disappears up the stairs and into her room. She reemerges in a flash, breathing hard. I notice that her fist is clenched.
She grabs my hand and with all the subtlety of a bowling ball in a bathtub, pulls me aside. “Mama,” she says, nearly breathless, “I need to ask you something QUIETLY.” She stage-whispers the word ‘quietly’ so that it is actually louder than any other word. I try to look serious.
“Yes, baby?” I ask. “What’s up?”
She opens her fingers just enough to reveal a small giraffe figurine from her room. As soon as she’s sure that I’ve seen it, she closes her fingers around it again.
“Do you think it would be OK for me to give this to Mom-NOS to take home for Bud? I know it’s mine, and you probably got it for me, so please don’t be mad.”
As Katie handed Mom-NOS her gift for Bud, my heart split open with pride.
Later that night, Katie and I were alone together in the car. I told her how proud I was of her. How I never cease to be amazed by the incredible person that she has already become. We talked about getting together with Mom-NOS again sometime soon and meeting Bud. Her eyes lit up. She reminded me of the B-U-D game. “Mama, that would be the first thing I’d do because then he’d know that I knew it and he’d be comfortable with me, ya know what I mean?”
I smiled. “Yes, baby, I said, “I know exactly what you mean.”
I don’t know why, but in that moment, something shifted. My perspective broke open and everything looked different. I had to share the revelation.
“You know, baby,” I said, “you will have a richer life than most people on this planet.”
She asked what I meant.
“Katie, your life will be so full because you are willing to SEE people. You want to meet them, know them, play with them, understand them, share joy with them. Your life will be full of people who not everyone was willing to take the time to get to know. And it will be immeasurably richer for their presence. You have a lot to look forward to. You are a very lucky girl.”
We drove in comfortable silence as she processed my words.
After a quiet minute she asked, “You mean like Bud?”
I choked back the tears yet again.
“Yes, baby. Like Bud.”
Then softly she said, “And Brooke.”
It wasn’t a question, but I offered affirmation anyway.
“Yes, baby, like Brooke.”
Yes, a child who lacks prejudice – who is open and accepting, loving and compassionate – is a gift to the world. But so too, what will come to her as a direct result of her lack of prejudice is a gift to that child – a life FULL of incredible people – some with challenges, ALL with gifts.