I saw this sweet story about a college kid who offered comfort to a man with special needs.
I don't know what I would have done in a similar situation -- felt awkward at best, maybe scared. Would I have held his hand? Would I have offered my shoulder? I wish I could say, but I know what little kid would have done.
At 9, little kid loves people. All of them. He strolled through the halls at orientation giving casual high fives, calling everyone by name, giving passing teachers a friendly head nod and a knowing look.
He was nominated for student council and wants to organize a club for new and/or lonely kids where they could play games and make new friends and learn the intricacies of the game Four Square, a huge part of their school's culture and social scene.
He is borderline obsessed with new students who can't speak English and goes out of his way to befriend them and learn words from their language while teaching them words from ours. I get updates on their progress daily.
It's all so easy for him.
He has a classroom nemesis whose questionable behavior fascinates him and was outraged when he caught her making fun of the special needs class. She was mocking their behavior and he told her that she had needed help when she was a baby, and they do too; that it's not their fault and they are just like everyone else.
"You have to do something!" Big Kid exclaimed as the story was retold. "She can NOT behave that way, you MUST get an adult involved next time so she can learn!"
"I am working on her! The adults know but it's the kids who need to show her it's not cool with us!"
He came home one day and told me he had encountered a child having an absolute meltdown in the office -- kicking, cursing, physically struggling against his mom and the vice principal who were trying to usher him out of the lobby.
He saw little kid and stopped and said, "I'm not leaving! I want a hug from him!!"
"What did you do?" I asked, intrigued and a little nervous. I don't know that I would want to hug a kicking, screaming, cursing stranger.
"I asked his mom if I could give him a hug and she said yes, so I did. And, you know, it was a really good hug. I was pretty surprised. It made him happy and he went home, and I was happy since it was a nice hug."
It made me happy too.
He came home yesterday and said, "Mom, you know how my friends and I treat the kids from the special needs class just like everyone else?"
"Well, today one of them slipped the bird! Just like that, slipped someone the bird!! I had to tell a teacher since I would do that for everyone else and she didn't seem surprised. He must have been a regular bird-slipper."
So I know what little kid would have done on the bus that day. He would have offered his hand, his shoulder, a hug.
Unless someone slipped him a bird, then they would have been reported.
Just like everyone else.