"You know what my Dad said?" he asked me. His eyes were still red from crying. During the training, when talking about feelings, he spoke about how sad he was that his Dad had died. "It broke my heart," he said, feeling the pain fresh with the telling. Teaching about feelings and about the right to feel is always heart wrenching for me. It is also so incredibly affirming. When speaking about emotions, it is clear how similar we all are, even with our differences. Humanity, at a feeling level, is humanity. So, when he spoke about his loss, all of us sat quiet and let him speak. Afterwards he came for a private word with me.
"When I was being bullied at school, I asked my Dad to come to the school and talk to the bullies, get them to stop," he said. I could see the memories of the long hallways filled with taunts, I could see fear visit him again as he spoke. "My Dad said that I had to learn to always walk proud, even when people were mean. He told me that he couldn't do it for me, that I had to do it myself."
"One day I told him that I wished that I didn't have Down Syndrome so the other kids would stop teasing me. My dad, he got really mad at me. He told me that I should never want to be someone else. He showed me how he and I both had the same colour of eyes, that meant that I was his son, that I was insulting him when I insulted me, his child." He seemed exhausted at the end of the story.
I asked him if what his Dad had said helped.
He nodded and said, 'When I got teased at school, I did what dad said and I walked proud. I had to say a prayer to God to help me."
I asked him if it worked, this prayer of his.
He said that it did but he doesn't say that prayer any more. "Now that my Dad is in heaven, if someone teases me I tell my Dad that I'm proud to be who I am. But I tell him that I'm mostly proud of having his eyes."
Happy Father's Day all.