The Conversation
Mothers in deep conversation
* "My Freddy's in a school where the kids are learning to understand differences in one another and to celebrate those differences."

* "What do you mean...celebrate differences?" 

* "Well, in order to celebrate differences, like we celebrate birthdays, you have to believe that the differences are pretty special, and can teach us a lot!" 

* "I'm still not sure what you mean."

* "The way I see it is that each child brings to the world a gift, and the wrapping on that gift, you know, the way the child looks and acts, is the place where differences can be found. I believe that those differences hold important lessons for everyone."

* "So if the 'wrapping' looks different because of a skin problem that a child might have, for example, that difference might be the very thing that teaches us how to care for one another?"

* "Right! The problem is, kids with differences that others can see, like skin problems, or walking problems, or talking problems, or--I could go on forever-- are often teased, and left out. Instead of learning from the difference, others act like if they get too friendly, the same thing might happen to them. It's sad!"

* "You're right, and it's not at all fair. I hope that our children will 'get it'. I hope that they'll be able to see just what the present is that each child brings to the classroom..."

*"After all, isn't it true that it's our differences that make the world go 'round?" 

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: May 6, 2006