"Shhhhh ... listen." One of my friends was sitting next to me while the others were out getting popcorn and pop. We'd arrived about 10 minutes early for the movie and were getting settled. We'd come to see a kids movie, "Underdog", because we all discovered that we'd been fans of the cartoon series when we were kids. We expected little from the film except to be reminded of youth. When we got there, we weren't just reminded of youth we were surrounded by it. I was engrossed in doing the premovie quiz they had up on the screen and had just guessed an answer when my friend said, "Shhhhh ... listen."
Behind us a couple of rows were two small boys with their mother. We'd seen them come in and both boys rushed behind their mothers looking very much like puppies who'd just learned to walk. The boys looked to be separated in age by a couple of years with the oldest being around 6. They were in deep conversation with each other.
"What's wrong with him?" said little brother.
"Who?" said older brother.
"Him" said little brother, they were behind me but I could imagine him pointing at me.
"There's nothing wrong with him." said older brother surprising the hell out of me.
"But he's not sitting in the chairs, he's got that one with wheels." said little brother.
"There's a kid in my class at school who is in a wheelchair." said older brother as if that was explanation enough.
"What's wrong with him?" said little brother who had difficulty shifting from this question.
"Nothing, he just can't walk." said older brother.
"Really?" said little brother.
"Yeah, he's the same but just can't walk." said older brother.
"Oh." said little brother.
"That's why they make wheelchairs." older brother continued pleased to be a fount of wisdom for his kid brother.
"Who's Underdog?" asked little brother moving on now.
"I don't know mom picked the movie." said little brother. Then they were off onto how dumb mom was.
That, my friends, is what integration does, it allows little boys to grow up knowing that different can be the same, and the same can be different. He knows this at 6.
The world has yet to catch up to him.