What’s The Opposite of Bullying?

What’s The Opposite of Bullying?

This morning I was witness to a beautiful moment. My three year old and I were sitting in the play area of the dentist’s office, awaiting our turn. She was playing nicely with a little boy with Down syndrome. He didn’t talk much, but was full of laughter and the occasional happy grunt. His mother and I exchanged a brief smile, but mostly focused on our magazines with the occasional “ok, let’s share the blocks now” or “wow, that’s a tall tower!” thrown out for good measure.

Another parent came in to the lobby with two older boys. If I had to guess, I’d say about 7 and 9 years old. While their dad was filling out the forms by the window, the boys came straight to the toy area.

After just a moment or two of witnessing the grunts that were coming from the little boy, they immediately started laughing and pointing at him. “What’s wrong with him?” “He’s SO WEIRD!”  “Is he retarded?”  “Why is he making that noise??”

My daughter looked at him, and then marched right up to those older boys. “He’s NOT weird.”

“You just can’t understand him!!”

“Like when I say ‘I am going to clean my teeth’ (she spoken in Bengali)” you can’t understand ME either.”

She was fired up. Which, granted, is a pretty normal state for a 3 year old. But you could see from her eyes and her stance that she was NOT going to back down.

She kept staring at them, and watched them walk back over to their dad.

Then she went right back to building towers with her little buddy. His mom was in tears thanking her. She just shrugged and went right back to playing.

In that moment, I couldn’t have been prouder of her.

Empathy. That’s the opposite of bullying.

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